By Anna M. Tinsley
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst told local business leaders Wednesday that he and other Republicans in Texas are working to make sure that the state has a good business climate.
"These are obviously not ordinary times for Texans and Americans," Dewhurst said, referring to the "unprecedented recession" that hit the nation. "These are tough times. We all want to make sure politics doesn't slow things down."
As he spoke to more than 200 people gathered for a Fort Worth Chamber luncheon at the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel, Dewhurst said he and other state leaders know that a predictable business climate will allow companies to thrive.
"We're going to protect consumers ... but we want the system as light as possible," he said.
Dewhurst, who is seeking a third term as lieutenant governor, faces Democrat Linda Chavez-Thompson, Libertarian Scott Jameson and Green Party candidate Herb Gonzales Jr. in the Nov. 2 election.
Dewhurst predicted that efforts to balance the state budget, which has an expected shortfall of more than $20 billion, should be made a little easier by past financial practices such as building up a rainy day fund.
"We'll have to tighten the belt some ... but it's not going to be as hard as some think," he said.
Dewhurst said it's time to look at individual programs and evaluate which ones work and cut back on those that don't. "Essential services we will maintain," he said.
One thing that helps the state is Texans buying more, creating more sales tax revenue for cities, counties and the state. That is why he's encouraging his wife "to go out and spend money," Dewhurst said. "You guys do the same. We are in this together."
He also said he foresees a "complete reorganization" for the Texas Department of Transportation. And he hopes that he and a group of state senators can propose a plan in the next legislative session to help address congestion on some of the state's most crowded roadways.