South Texas wins, Sen. Cruz loses

Historic moment for South Texas

On Monday, Feb. 3, two bills filed in the Texas House and Senate detailed plans for the creation of a Rio Grande Valley university by joining UT-Brownsville, UT-Pan American and the UT Regional Academic Health Center, all institutions in South Texas. As one, these three institutions would benefit, if the new proposals become law, from access to the Permanent University Fund. One of the largest endowments in the nation, the Fund is, according to the Texas Constitution, only accessible to certain schools in the UT and Texas A&M Systems. Presently, that list of key-holders excludes UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American.

By granting South Texas institutions access to the Fund, a plan Gov. Rick Perry endorsed in his State of the State speech last week, the Texas Legislature has directed tightly-controlled resources to a region where they are most needed. Some might argue that those resources, which, after all, are substantial and exist for the sole purpose of enriching the UT and A&M University Systems, should be spread around the state more generously. But don’t dismiss the momentous historical occasion the Legislative, System-wide and gubernatorial support the development represents for the Rio Grande region, which is expected to experience explosive population growth in the coming decades. South Texas will benefit, as all localities do, from the introduction of higher educations which brings jobs, medical care and greater opportunities.

In many ways, the existence of UT-Austin is an important part of what makes Central Texas such a rich place to live. We can only hope the same for South Texas. “Our investment in the children of South Texas will be returned a thousand-fold,” Rick Perry said last week. We, uncharacteristically, applaud the governor.


Cruz takes no prisoners

Texas voters got what they asked for when they elected Ted Cruz to the U.S. Senate: a debater and point-maker. But they did not get, so far, a winning debater and point-maker. Since he took office in January, Cruz has earned a place as the only current U.S. Senator to lose every vote he has cast.

“Senator Cruz promised the voters of Texas he would take principled stands when it comes to fiscal responsibility and protecting America’s sovereignty,” his spokesman, Sean Rushton, recently told The Washington Times. “He didn’t come to Washington to make friends; he came to help save the country. Senator Cruz is proud of his votes and will continue to stand up for America and the Constitution.”

Cruz apparently subscribes to the notion that voting against every measure that crosses his Senate desk can be equated with courageous and principled leadership. The opposite is true; it would be courageous of Cruz to seek advancement of our country’s interests in the face severe ideological divisions. It is much easier for Cruz to loudly reject ideas than to have the courage to compromise.

Cruz has opposed minor procedural changes in the Senate, the $50 billion Hurricane Sandy relief package and President Barack Obama’s appointment and the resulting confirmation of Sen. John F. Kerry to the post of secretary of state.

Right or wrong, Cruz has not gotten his way once. And whether you believe in Ron Paul’s brand of political stubbornness or President Obama’s compromising attitude — sometimes deemed over-solicitous by his supporters — Cruz’s initial senatorial appearance as a poster boy for conservative lost causes makes us long for his more practical predecessor, former U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.