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Annise Parker Answers the Question: “How are you going to pay for it?”

On Monday, the Houston Chronicle reminded voters of the difficult economy using the mayor’s cautionary words: “There’s no extra money at City Hall” – and challenged the candidates for mayor to back up spending promises by answering the question, “How are you going to pay for it?”

These are tough times for our families, and our city. I believe in respecting the hard-earned tax dollars of our citizens. As city controller, I have spent my tenure rooting out waste and fraud throughout city departments. Today, I am proud to say that millions in savings is working for our priorities like police, after-school programs and vital city services.

Lately I have weathered criticism from political opponents for using conservative budget numbers; but I would rather budget responsibly than lock taxpayers into spending that we cannot afford. As your next Mayor, I will take a responsible approach to committing tax dollars, just as I have done as city controller.

I want to make one thing clear: in this tough economy, I will not commit tax dollars for new expensive projects until we are sure that our economy is growing again.

While I love museums (serving on the boards of two), and I’m certainly a sports fan, I believe that in these tough times we need to move the city forward within our means. This means we cannot afford big expensive projects like new museums or new stadiums at this time without finding a way to pay for them. As the Chronicle pointed out, there simply isn’t any extra cash in the coffers right now.

And as your next mayor, my priorities are clear. I will not risk the public safety budget – or raise your taxes – as a way of finding funds to pay for luxury items we cannot afford.

Throughout this campaign I have not proposed spending any additional tax dollars. I stand by that statement today.

I have proposed shifting spending in one area: putting more police officers on the street by restoring overtime funds to the Police Department and hiring more police. And I have said I would pay for that by reprogramming federal funds, reorganizing within HPD, and saving money in cadet training by fast-tracking officers certified by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education program administered through the Houston Community College System.

My long-range vision is to grow Houston’s economy by making us the world headquarters for the new energy economy. Let’s build on our strength in the oil and gas industry by using innovative public-private partnerships in alternative energies like biofuels, wind, and solar. That will help current businesses thrive and bring new jobs and industry to our city.
And it will help support a high level of public amenities – such as world-class museums and stadiums – that add to our high quality of life.

Yet leadership means more than plans and vision. It’s about being able to establish priorities and make the tough calls. Houstonians are strong. We can handle the truth. Let’s be careful with our citizens’ tax dollars while we’re growing our economy and continuing to make our city all that it can be.

Contact: Sue Davis
713-392-6011 |

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