Tomorrow changes everything. Not to get too hyperbolic, but the November elections represent a pivotal moment in American politics. In Texas, we have a clear distinction between the two candidates for governor. We get to choose between the current governor, Rick Perry, who is running for a record thirds term, and Houston Mayor Bill White, the Democratic challenger. The choice is clear once the facts are laid bare.
Perry has been governor since 2000 when he took over for George W. Bush. He loves to claim the robust job growth this state has experienced as a product of his policies. This is akin to governor-who-quit Sarah Palin's assertions about Alaska. Point blank: Texas, as well as Alaska, benefited from the fact that energy was one of the few dependable job sources during the lean years of 2000 to 2010.
In contrast, White has created jobs in all facets, including health care and transportation in the Houston area. His understanding of how a 21st century economy must be diverse will ensure Texas does not follow the disastrous one-trick economy of Michigan.
Although energy and jobs are the big dogs in the Texas room, focus on the most important issue (in my opinion), education, is particularly telling. Under Perry teachers rank 49th in salary; only six states spend less per child than we do. When compared to the rest of the country, we rank 46th in SAT scores and dead last when it comes to people over 25 with a high school diploma. Bottom line? We can do much better than Perry's "successes."
White's approach to education is different in the sense that he actually cares about it. Some of his ideas include expanding pre-k programs to all day sessions, something Perry denied Texas kids. White also plans to aggressively target dropouts and get them re-enrolled, as well as paying teachers what they are worth and actually funding education instead of suing the federal government to block education monies.
Millions of lives depend on which direction we take tomorrow. We already know what a Rick Perry Texas looks like: flawed, special interested, unfocused. We also know what leadership under Bill White looks like as well: visionary, empowering, and proven effective through the great city of Houston. Move forward; elect a real leader, a man of results. Tomorrow, elect Bill White.