by Susan Combs
Do you even need to care about politics or elections or who “runs things”? Yes. Here’s a little of my own history and how I got involved.
Like many, I was fairly detached from what I would call “action” in my government until the late 80’s. I had been rocking along, running a ranch, taking care of our three little boys, when I got a call from the head of the electric co-op that brings power to West Texas. He told me that he needed permission to cross our family’s ranch in the Big Bend to put up a giant new power line.
I was surprised. Who needed it? There was no major influx of people coming, so why build a giant power line, with huge towers and double the capacity – and undoubtedly an increase in our electricity costs?
I was living in Austin when I wasn’t on the ranch and thought, gee, the state agency folks in charge of that kind of thing live right in town. So, I called the Public Utility Commission and got hold of a very nice gentleman who agreed to meet with me.
I took a standard Texas highway map to his office and showed him the proposed new route. We talked about where the folks lived who were going to need the power. None of them lived along the route of the proposed new big transmission line. I asked this expert in Austin why the line couldn’t just go south from the town of Alpine along the highway straight to where the growth was? He shrugged, and said he couldn’t see why not.
High school geometry says the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So, I met with the head guy at the electric co-op and asked him about that different route, a straight line. His response? “If I explained it to you, you wouldn’t understand it.”
Was I mad? You bet. He was telling me I didn’t have the right to know, couldn’t possibly understand, or didn’t have a say in something that was undoubtedly going to affect my business, my family, and my pocketbook. Two of us ranchers along the route took them on and won in a public hearing about the line.
Why is this important? Because government impacts each and every one of us, every single day. Through regulations, tax policy, setting fees, borrowing and accumulating debt, and so on. And the best way to have a say in how we are affected is by getting involved and voting. The board of the electric coop was elected and we changed that board in subsequent years.
Elected government officials also set the economic policies that make a real difference to individuals and businesses planning on a bright future. If you believe a particular location is going to be bad for you, you don’t stick around. If you think it will be good, you stay there or move there – and are glad you did so.
And boy, are people moving to Texas! Texas voters have elected leaders who ensured that our state is a place where you can get a job, start a business, buy a home, and build a future for you and your family. People notice that kind of thing and those folks have decided to put down some roots and earn their own piece of the Lone Star Success.
We released another video today that illustrates that point. You see, Texas’ fiscally conservative leadership has meant that we stayed off the home price roller coaster that states like California, Nevada, and Florida have been riding. And compared to many other states, Texas homes have remained within reach of people looking to lay a foundation for their futures. That, along with no state income tax and a business friendly environment means people are making their home in Texas. Take a look:
Pretty interesting, huh? So who is responsible for this growth? Well the short answer is…you. Voters like you made it possible by ensuring the people you elected kept Texas a great state where everyone has a chance at Lone Star Success.
Ultimately, it does matter who is in charge – and your participation does make a difference. Think about my power line story. Register to vote by October 6, so you can decide who next leads our state – and makes those decisions that affect your life in big and small ways. And help continue Lone Star Success – it’s the smart thing to do.
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Click here to read more about Texas’ Lone Star Success.