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April/May 2010 – Web Exclusive

A Letter from the Comptroller

Photo of Susan Combs

Across Texas

  • San Antonio’s century-old Gibbs Building, the city’s first office building, has been renovated and recently opened as the 91-room Hotel Indigo San Antonio, part of an international hotel chain managed by InterContinental Hotel Group.
  • Austin developer Capital City Partners LLC has announced plans for a new 15-story office building on the shores of Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. The project should be completed by April 2012.
  • Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport has awarded a $900 million contract for construction and related services to Balfour Beatty Construction, as part of a project to renovate the airport’s terminals and build a rail station to connect it with future routes of Dallas Area Rapid Transit.

Texas is home to many larger-than-life characters, both real and fictional, who personify our state’s independent spirit, our optimism and our grit in the face of adversity.

In the book The Time it Never Rained, author Elmer Kelton created a fictional character that reminds me of a very real person in my life – my father, David Combs.

The novel’s protagonist is a crusty rancher named Charlie Flagg who made it through the Texas drought of the 1950s with fierce determination and a wisdom honed on the range. In resisting offers of federal assistance, he said, “What I can’t do for myself, I’ll do without.”

Likewise, my dad had the good foresight and business sense to lease part of our ranch land during the lean years, rather than taking on more financial burden. He always called that the best financial decision he’d ever made.

You see, both Charlie Flagg and my dad understood that you can’t simply borrow your way out of drought.

They also knew that you have to be very sensitive to the burden you’re putting on your back during lean times, because it can stay with you after good times return.

Those are timeless lessons. But I’m afraid they’re forgotten from time to time.

In this issue of Fiscal Notes, we take a look at the massive federal budget deficit and our expanding national debt, and the implications they will have for the country’s economy – and for our children and grandchildren, as taxpayers.

Today, we need sound and sensible strategies to meet our challenges.

As an eternal optimist who likes roses as much as bluebonnets, I’ve always hoped for the best. But as the proud daughter of a West Texas rancher, I also know that you can’t take hope to the bank. That’s never worked.

What does work is discipline and common sense. In today’s climate, we must know what we can truly afford to do for ourselves. Or do without. We get that here in Texas.

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