It can be a reality.
Now I have never really been big on TV, but I have watched it quite a bit over the years. How it has changed. We’ve come from cartoons on Saturday morning, Batman after school, movies (with commercials), variety shows, sitcoms, soaps, and even music videos on MTV, to having hundreds of cable channels, 24 hour news and movies on demand. Then came the reality show. The first wave was Survivor, Big Brother, Fear Factor, and, of course, the Osbournes. Then came Dance Moms, Honey Boo Boo, and The Real Housewives of… whatever. TV was really going down the tubes. All of this was at the dawn of HD, no less.
Then out of all this, like a breath of fresh air, emerges Duck Dynasty, an actually entertaining reality show that gives us a glimpse into the lives of the Robertson family who created a family dynasty manufacturing and marketing duck calls in Louisiana. It is promising that reality can still claim family values, patriotism, hard work, and rite of passage, while also having a good time. The Robertson family has its spats and quarrels, and they do some pretty goofy things, but at the end of the day they sit down together and remember what is important.
Back to reality. Out of clutter comes vision. Out of confusion, a plan. Out of quarrel emerges good. It may have taken three special sessions to get there, but here we are. The time comes to sit down together and reflect on the events of the last several months, realize where we are today, and plan the events of the future that will complete the task at hand and insure that the hard work of past months will not be lost.
Two major accomplishments were realized in the past legislative session. Funding for water and funding for roads. Some of the road funding is a done deal: that is the funding to improve roads in energy sector affected areas. The money is coming, and it will be interesting to see those projects go to contract, as there are some unconventional project delivery methods being used. The majority of the funding for water and transportation will come from the rainy day fund. Using these funds for these purposes requires a constitutional amendment for each. The voters will need to decide if that’s what they want to do.
First comes water. The amendment to use money from the rainy day fund for water infrastructure will be voted on in November 2013. This is for a one-time allocation of $2 billion for water infrastructure. The Highway Funding Task Force is developing a plan to educate the public on the need for funding to meet the future demand for water in Texas.
Next comes transportation. This vote will come November 2014. The amendment would allow approximately $1.2 billion per year to flow into the highway fund. This would be the largest continual funding increase that the highway fund has ever seen. Though it is nowhere near the funding level that is needed, it will be a start for repairing and expanding Texas vast highway system.
The effort will be strong and may be demanding at times and many of you will be called to help in the push. There may be times that we will wish that we could tap the simple wisdom of Uncle Phil (Robertson) for advice as we tackle this endeavor. I am sure that Uncle Phil would agree that hard work and perseverance could turn Texas’ Road Dynasty into a reality.