How many of us would work for $7,200 per year, while taking on the responsibility of voting for laws that have a direct impact on the future of every resident of the state? That’s what Texas Senators and State Reps do for at least 70 days per year.
Even if our legislators worked only eight hours per day, this would equal only $12.86 per hour for the people who make our state laws and conduct oversight of executive branch offices.
The truth is that legislators work for many days leading up to the legislative session, and then work very long hours, seven days a week, as soon as the session begins. Furthermore, legislators spend a lot of time campaigning for office and subsequently servicing constituents. This reduces hourly compensation to well below minimum wage.
The reason for this writing is because my wife and I recently had the pleasure of spending a few very interesting hours with Tan Parker, our representative in the State Legislature.
We invited him for breakfast last Saturday and, as we enjoyed a small mountain of scrambled eggs, ham, croissants, fresh-squeezed orange juice and coffee, we covered topics that ranged from the current abortion bill being decided in the special session called by Governor Perry, to the Flower Mound Municipal Management District (MMD) legislation he proposed that didn’t get passed before the session closed last month.
If you’ve been following the mob scene in Austin the last couple of weeks you know that the Republican majority was muzzled in the last few hours of the session, making it impossible for them to cast their votes on the issue. As a result, Mr. Perry called the special session to ensure that the legal legislative process is able to work. Rep. Parker will be there for the next couple of weeks to cast his vote to make that happen. Whether one is pro-choice or pro-life, I think we can all agree that we can’t allow mob rule to keep our reps from doing the job expected of them when we voted them into office.
As for the MMD, Mr. Parker said he realized the bill was a bit late getting filed, but he wrote the legislation in one day, as soon as he felt assured that it would be a major plus for our town and its environs, while not putting Flower Mound in a position of responsibility for any future taxes. Inasmuch as all future residents and businesses in the River Walk would be apprised of their tax liability before moving into the magnificently adorned community, they, and they alone, would be assessed for the long-range commitment of funds to the pay for special district agreement. Nevertheless, that’s history.
What about the future of the River Walk? Hopefully, the Town Council will vote to put a measure on the November ballot that will allow residents to vote for a Public Improvement District (PID), which will have a similar effect on the financing of this future showplace for all of North Texas. Rep. Parker said he will do what he can to support the measure if it’s on the ballot.
On a personal note, my wife, Annette, and I thoroughly enjoyed a fast and stimulating three hours with a very interesting and energetic public servant. Tan is a dedicated family man; a devout Christian; and a fiscal conservative who keeps a close eye on the state budget.
On January 31, he was appointed to chair the House Corrections Committee which oversees the incarceration and rehabilitation of convicted felons, the operation and management of state correctional facilities, juvenile offenders, procedures of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and other policy areas. In addition to other committee assignments, Parker has hit the ground running on the multi-billion dollar correctional system by finding millions of dollars in waste and promptly eliminating many of the “luxuries” (my word for it) that have no place in a system that is designed to punish lawbreakers.
I criticize elected officials often enough for them to know that I’m not exactly a sycophant. When I disagree with an official policy or an attitude toward the public, I’m eager to take offense in writing. Yet, when I have a chance to meet and spend time with certain hard-working officials, who certainly aren’t in it for the money, I feel compelled to applaud them. Most of us couldn’t, or wouldn’t, dedicate that much of our lives, including time away from family, friends and our more lucrative career, to work at improving the future of so many people we will never meet. That level of dedication will always get my vote.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.