The Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce
hosted “Fiscally Sound America, What Can Be Done?” on Tuesday, June 12 with
panelists Congressman Charlie Stenholm (D-Texas, U.S. House: 1979-2005) and
Representative Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie, Texas House) to gain keen insights into
our current fiscal quandary, the choices that lay ahead, and what can be done
to put us on a sustainable path. The event was moderated by Mabrie Jackson,
CEO/President of North Texas Commission.
The focus of the discussion was the
overwhelming fiscal crisis on the state and national level. Over the next
decade, projections indicate federal deficits will significantly exceed
estimated revenues as a percentage of GDP. A still-weak economy limits
the scope for large adjustments in the very short term, but addressing this
long-term imbalance soon will allow for more reasonable and gradual
adjustments. In Texas, the upcoming budget process presents its own set
of economic challenges.
“What’s wrong with Texas is that we’re
becoming more like Washington,” commented Pitts on what’s happening in Austin.
With the Texas Legislature possibly looking at additional cuts next session,
Pitt replied that Texas needs help funding its education system or some schools
may not be able to open for the 2013-2014 school year.
From the national perspective, Stenholm
stated that the system is polarized and broken. “Country first, party second,”
said Stenholm talking about how representatives in Washington should be working
together to resolve fiscal agreements, not defeating one another. On federal
healthcare, Stenholm stated, “We promise more in healthcare then what we can
deliver.” He argued that both sides should be educating and listening to get a
better understanding of how to be effective policymakers.