Grassroots America endorses Matt Schaefer for District 6 State Representative

MattForTexas.org
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 2:12pm

SMITH COUNTY — On Monday, Grassroots America announced their endorsement of Matt Schaefer for State Representative, District 6.

Schaefer is running against incumbent, Leo Berman, for the seat.

The Grassroots America board voted for the endorsement on May 3rd, with 8 out of 9 members voting for the endorsement, and one person opting to not endorse any candidate.

Grassroots America released the following statement following their endorsement:

Today Grassroots America’s Executive Director JoAnn Fleming announced the organization’s endorsement of Matt Schaefer in the District 6 State Representative race.

Fleming stated, “The Grassroots America Board sets a very high standard for granting endorsements. Endorsement of a candidate is a serious matter. We do not make endorsements in order to participate in a popularity contest. We don’t make endorsements based on appeasing interested groups. We take the political process very seriously, and we thoroughly vet the candidates by checking into their stated qualifications, credentials, training, experience, and records. We hold candidate forums and debates, attend forums held by other organizations, review candidate web sites, questionnaires, Facebook and Twitter postings. We seek to determine the character, core values, temperament, judgment, management style, and practical vision of the candidates. In many cases, we hold candidate interviews in order to get to know the candidates much better than a thirty- or sixty-second sound bite will allow. If allegations arise about a candidate, we dig deep to get to the bottom of the claims before we make a decision.”

A higher than three-fourths majority vote (seven of nine board members) in support of a candidate is required for an endorsement. Grassroots America is pleased to announce that challenger Matt Schaefer earned the endorsement, having received eight of nine board votes on May 3, with one board member voting in support of “no endorsement” in the race.

While Grassroots America respects State Representative Leo Berman’s military service to his country, his service to our state, and his consistent pro-life and pro-Second Amendment positions, the fact is – our state’s fiscal house is not in order. From 1990 – 2012, Texas state spending rose 310%, while population growth plus inflation totaled only 132%. Our legislature is facing a sea of red ink when it returns in 2013 to deal with the results of balancing the state budget with accounting gimmicks to defer $2.3 billion in Foundation School Program Funding; numerous transfers of fees and taxes diverted from their original purpose to balance the general fund; and underfunding Medicaid caseload growth by $4.8 billion. [Sources: Texas Public Policy Foundation, State Comptroller, Legislative Budget Board]

With state funding for Medicaid for the 2014-2015 Texas budget projected to call for up to $15 - $17 billion in new state tax dollars, tough decisions will be necessary. We were shocked to hear Mr. Berman state more than once in this campaign that the legislature only has a limited time to pass a budget, so they could not do anything more to produce a better budget. Mr. Berman indicates that simply passing a budget with no tax increase solved the problem. We disagree!

While it is true that the legislature passed a balanced budget on paper, that is simply not enough. Kicking the can down the road on tough decisions is wrong in Washington, DC, and even worse in our state government. As Mr. Schaefer has correctly pointed out several times, most of the cuts were one-time federal stimulus funds used to balance the budget the last biennium. He correctly states the fact that the budget was balanced with a combination of these cuts, tax speed-ups (advance payments on certain businesses = about $700 million); deferrals (accounting gimmicks); underfunding of Medicaid; and diversion of funds from original use (example: red light camera revenue diverted from trauma centers to the general fund).

We believe Mr. Schaefer understands it will take more than accounting gimmicks and legislative sleights of hand to get us out of the hole we are in, and he does not support raiding the Rainy Day Fund to cover these legislative sins. Schaefer gets the fact that if we are ever to truly get state spending under control, we must take state government back to its constitutional core functions. Across-the-board cuts of 2.5%, 5%, or 10% of something that state government should not be doing in the first place is just not enough!

We also believe Schaefer’s past work on the Texas Sunset Commission gives him good experience to move forward with an aggressive reform effort to consolidate numerous duplicated departments, agencies, and programs once the core constitutional function test has been applied. We also like his aggressive approach to ending over-regulation, which often protects special interests while limiting, or eliminating competition in the market place.

We were not pleased to see Mr. Berman’s vote against making the state budget process more transparent. Greater transparency in state budgeting is absolutely necessary. We often find state legislators who have no idea their consistent votes for the budget have approved $25 million for Formula One Racing in Austin ($250 million planned over 10 years), $500 million in crony capitalism pork for special interests such as film and music makers, video games, and commercials for Fortune 500 Companies. [Source: Politifact vetted statement by State Representative David Simpson] Schaefer states he will lead the charge for greater budget transparency.

We are confident Schaefer understands the need to limit taxpayer-funded social services to citizens and legal residents. We believe he will prudently go about closing loopholes and work to eliminate fraud in Medicaid. We believe he has the temperament and the communications skills to build coalitions to get needed reforms moving.

Finally, we just cannot overlook Leo’s broken promise on state retirement. During his first campaign, Mr. Berman stated that he was “A Man of His Word” on all of his literature and in his newspaper ads. The breaking of his “eight years is enough” term limit pledge was bad enough, but breaking his promise to forego state legislative retirement is just the last straw for us. Until this campaign, we had no idea our state representative had broken his promise to the people. This broken promise just broke our hearts, and we cannot overlook it.

On State Representative Berman’s campaign push card fourteen years ago, this quote appears: “Today, after only 12 years of service, a State Legislator can retire at the age of 50 and receive $23,000 a year for life. This is an affront to Texas taxpayers.” We see it as a stronger affront when it is in the form of a broken promise.

We wish Representative Berman had kept his promise to retire after last session, but we wish him only the best in continued remission from his cancer. We thank him for his past service.

Because Matt Schaefer has run a respectful, but clean and fact-based campaign, and because Matt Schaefer has the temperament, the core values, and a clear understanding of where our legislature has gone wrong and how to get back on course toward fiscal sanity, we are happy to endorse Matt Schaefer for Texas Legislator for House District 6.

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