Dan Morales the other Ben Barnes Mule

Well, it took a while but like always, the truth eventually comes out. Two days before Dan Morales entered the governor's race, old Ben Barnes told everyone that he knew all about Dan Morales through his out of sync interview with Peggy Fikac. In fact, he is the fellow that brought Dan Morales in to give the spurs to the DOA Tony Sanchez. And it seems that he has set Dan Morales' agenda just like he bought off Marty Akins for his other mule Tony Sanchez.

Now Morales has thrown out his increasing taxes program just like Ben told him to do. Isn't it interesting how this will drop Morales in the polls and may give Sanchez enough boost to get 51% of the Democratic Primary if anyone wants to believe the bogus Dallas Morning News poll.

For all except the totally stupid and the totally ignorant, if you look behind the Hispanic revolution you will find Ben Barnes, the original Mr. Enron.

Go back and read my epistles and tell me that I did not see this coming. Ben brought in Morales to give a kick to the lazy apathetic Sanchez but builds in a self destruct mechanism for Morales: increasing taxes. This is why Morales has no web page and sends lackeys to Democratic functions. He was never a viable candidate. Just a Barnes red herring.

But Barnes did not count on WorldPeace and there is still 39 days until the election. The taxes and the stripper wife issue ought to just about do it for Morales.

Well, so much for the Dallas Morning News poll and Morales alleged big numbers. As I said yesterday, no one will be able to call this race until its over. And when its over, it won't be Hispanic. And it won't be Ben Barnes.

John WorldPeace
The next governor of Texas
No more corruption. No more Monicas.
God Bless Texas

February 8, 2002


High-profile Democrat says Texas needs a tax increase 
By Peggy Fikac 
Chief, Express-News Austin Bureau 

Web Posted : 12/31/2001 12:00 AM 

AUSTIN ...; Look for a prominent Democrat to expound this election year on the need for a tax increase to bolster crucial state services. 

Look for him to call a tax increase inevitable, as the state confronts a potential shortfall estimated in the billions. Just don't look for him on the ballot. 

Former Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes ; who raises money nationally for Democrats and met with candidates, including gubernatorial hopeful Tony Sanchez, as the Texas primary ticket took shape ; plans to continue calling for new taxes to lift services such as education and transportation. 

It's a theme he's sounded since last year, perhaps his most visible effort to shape broad Texas policy since his storied political career was cut short in the fallout from the 1971 Sharpstown banking scandal, in which he wasn't charged. He plans another major speech sometime this spring.

The theme carries renewed significance in light of the sagging economy and an election in which Democrats are fighting to regain a foothold in statewide office.

While Barnes talks of a tax increase, candidates shy away from the idea, a reaction some observers cast in terms biblical and unalterable.

"You can never, ever run for election advocating tax increases. It's the first deadly sin," said Austin consultant Bill Miller. 

Political scientist Jerry Polinard of the University of Texas Pan American said politicians "consider that to be certain death."

There's no such concern for Barnes, who was House speaker at 26 and lieutenant governor at 30, and talks proudly of taxes approved during his time in office. Now 63 and a lobbyist, Barnes avows no interest in seeking office again. He said he hopes to set the agenda for a realistic discussion of the state's circumstances among candidates.

"Leadership is telling the people the truth," he said. "I've got enough faith in the people that live in Texas that if you tell them the truth, that they'll do the right thing." 

He noted that state Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, a Republican he supports, has said lawmakers could face a $5 billion shortfall in 2003 to meet commitments in areas including teacher health insurance. 

"There's not going to be any way" to avoid a tax increase in the next session, Barnes said.

Barnes said he'll continue to advocate an increase in the gasoline tax, as well as other levies as part of the effort to turn around a state he believes is headed for mediocrity.

"Everybody can run and hide, and they're not going to talk about it in 2002 — probably none of the candidates are. That's the reason that my Democratic friends are not going to like me making that speech any more than my Republican friends," he said. "Everybody wants to kill the messenger, and I'm sure a lot of people want to shoot me."

Both parties put distance between themselves and tax promotion.

"The people of Texas don't want new taxes,"said Democratic strategist Kelly Fero. "If they have been clear on anything, they have been clear on that. Nor is there a need for new taxes. What there is a need for is smart leadership that knows how to run a state budget." 

Fero accused Republicans of squandering a budget surplus, a large portion of which went to tax cuts under then-Gov. George W. Bush.

GOP spokesman Ted Royer said, "We are not going to be campaigning on tax increases and we're not going to be running away from our record of lowering taxes." 

Republican Gov. Rick Perry, seeking election to the office he assumed when Bush became president, "is not going to propose new taxes, and he will address the budgetary needs in a fiscally conservative and fiscally responsible way," said spokeswoman Kathy Walt.

Asked if Perry would make a no-new-taxes pledge, Walt spoke of uncertain times.

"Not knowing what the future might hold, if there were some, God forbid, some terroristic disaster in Texas, the state would have to look at addressing the kinds of economic issues that would result from something of that nature at that time," she said.

Sanchez, of Laredo, first will "see how the money is being spent today," said campaign manager Glenn Smith. "He thinks there may be a way to stretch a dollar of revenue into $1.20 worth of value.

"If the public sees, sooner or later, the dollar has been stretched as far as it can, the waste has been eliminated, and still economic times require new revenue, then responsible public officials ought to look at that," Smith said. "But not until then, and as nothing but a last resort."

Smith distanced his candidate from Barnes, for whom Sanchez worked when Barnes was lieutenant governor. Barnes was among those who sought to persuade Sanchez to make the race and recently had a fund-raiser for him.

"He is one of thousands of people Tony has talked to about whether to run, with no more or less influence than any other Texan," Smith said. "Ben's probably got far closer relationships with several Republican officeholders than he does with Tony Sanchez."

Republicans were quick to tie Barnes' views to Sanchez. 

"There's a very small group of people that sit in a smoke-filled room and call the shots in the Democratic Party, and Ben Barnes is one of those guys," said Royer. "The fact that he's calling for a big tax increase lays the foundation for Tony Sanchez to do the same."

Barnes said he's not speaking for Sanchez. 

"I'm a Democrat, and everybody knows that," he said. "I hope it's a nonpartisan message, that this needs to be done and Republicans are going to have to be responsible as well as Democrats."




Morales thinks it might be time for tax increase
By Ken Herman

American-Statesman Staff

Friday, February 8, 2002

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dan Morales says he is "skeptical" about the chances of digging the state out of a projected financial hole and funneling more money to education without a tax hike next year. 

Morales favors a major overhaul of the state tax system, much like then-Gov. George W. Bush's failed 1997 attempt, as part of an effort to revamp public school funding. The goal, said Morales, is to reduce local property taxes and find additional state money to help pay for public schools. 

But unlike Bush in 1997, Morales said he sees no need for such an overhaul to be revenue-neutral. Bush's 1997 plan would have replaced $3 billion in school property taxes with money from cuts in state spending, increased sales taxes and a proposed new business levy. 

Morales, in a campaign-trail interview with the Austin American-Statesman, said it looks as if the state will need more money from taxpayers next year. 

"I am skeptical about the notion that that would get the job done," he said of a tax overhaul that does not increase the bottom line. 

"And I think there is a very real question about whether we have devoted currently a sufficient number of public dollars to the most important priority state government has, and that is educating our kids," he added. 

Morales cautioned voters against the siren song of candidates who join the no-new-taxes chorus. 

"I would be skeptical of those who claim that we currently are investing adequate dollars in the job of educating our kids," he said, adding he is also skeptical about "the ability of the state to fund public education adequately at the level of investment we currently make." 

Laredo businessman Tony Sanchez, Morales' prime opponent in the March 12 Democratic primary, has said tax talk should not be considered until lawmakers are sure every state dollar is being spent efficiently, a concept Morales supports. Sanchez has said it is premature to talk about a tax hike. 

"He wants to take a look at how the government is spending money and whether we can cut waste and reprioritize," said Michelle Kucera, Sanchez's spokeswoman. 

Gov. Rick Perry, unopposed for the GOP nomination, also has said it is too early to talk about a tax hike. 

"Governor Perry will not be carrying the banner for new taxes," said spokeswoman Kathy Walt, who said her boss believes the budget process should begin with close scrutiny of current spending. 

The state's current $113.8 billion two-year budget is the tightest spending plan in a decade and has gotten even tighter since the Legislature left Austin last spring. 

Unexpected costs have sprung up in the state's Medicaid, foster care and children's health insurance programs. And federal aid for highway construction and social services will likely be less than the state had expected. 

Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander says the state will start the 2004-05 budget cycle in a $5 billion hole -- and lawmakers say the number will be much higher. That does not include the kind of school-finance overhaul -- with an eye toward increasing the state's share -- that Morales and others believe is needed. 

Morales touched briefly on taxes during a Thursday news conference at which he previewed new campaign television ads. 

"To the extent that it becomes necessary ultimately to consider options whereby additional revenue needs to be located, I'm willing to consider those alternatives," he told reporters. 

But Morales, a former House member who sponsored a $5.7 billion tax hike in 1987, went into greater detail about taxes on Wednesday during an interview between campaign stops. He said a state income tax is the only levy he would not consider. 

Morales, like others, is awaiting a report from a special legislative panel preparing a school-finance proposal for next year. 

"I think it will be clear that we have reached the point where we cannot simply slap on additional Band-Aids to our school finance structure," Morales said. 

But he added that it can be tough for candidates to avoid the no-new-taxes pledge. "I think the temptation to pander to voters during an election year is overwhelming for many candidates," he said. "I don't think it's responsible to say absolutely that we will not need to consider proposals that generate new revenue." 

You may contact Ken Herman at kherman@statesman.com or 445-1718.