Glenn Hegar

Oil is in a slump and, on its face, that’s a good thing for you and me. Low gas prices mean embracing the fuel extravagances of yesteryear, like leaving your car idling in the parking all night so it’s warm when you drive to class in the morning, or playfully splashing your friends with gasoline at the pump in front of the 7-11. However, there are two sides to every coin, and low prices on crude oil could mean problems for the upcoming state budget with very real implications for UT.

Oil and gas are a huge component of the Texas economy. Although the oil and gas sector accounts for less than 3 percent of Texas jobs, it drives around 11 percent of our economic output. The last major oil bust in the late 1980s demonstrated the devastating effect of cratering commodities on the broader economy when over 700 banks and thrifts failed, according to the Wall Street Journal. Although it’s unlikely we’ll see a repeat of that disaster, many of the same macroeconomic forces behind the bust are at play now. Expansion of oil exploration in West Texas and North Dakota’s Bakken formation have increased domestic supply while internationally a weakened OPEC has done little to reduce production lest they sacrifice their own market share. Abroad, tempered global growth and increased fuel efficiency has decreased demand. All of these factors converge to create the low prices that we see today and are creating a headache for not only oil companies, but also the state legislators who rely heavily on energy price projections to write their budget.

The unfortunate elected official whose most impactful decision will be guessing what oil prices will be over a particularly volatile period is Glenn Hegar, our newly sworn-in comptroller. His office’s Biennial Revenue Estimate has to include a baseline guess of how much money will be available to the state for spending over the next legislative period. Although a barrel of West Texas intermediate crude oil has plummeted from over $100 in May to less than $50 as of this writing, Hegar has projected prices to rise back up to between $65 and $70 on average over the biennium. This means reduced state revenue in the form of taxes on energy and the firms that produce it. This isn’t to say that Texas is expected to economically stagnate in coming years. The Dallas Fed recently predicted that the state economy will continue to grow by 2 to 2.5 percent, less than in recent years and not quite high enough to continue heralding the “Texas miracle.”

If state legislators decide to reduce higher education funding due to strain from reduced energy revenues, this could lead to a bigger tuition bill for students, just as happened in the 2012-2013 biennium when former Comptroller Susan Combs underestimated state revenue. In addition to relying on tax money to pay for the portion of the higher education budget covered by the Legislature, the state’s Permanent University Fund is an endowment contributing to the support of schools in the University of Texas andTexas A&M University Systems, as provided by the state’s 1876 Constitution. The fund’s assets include billions in financial assets as well as 2.1 million acres of land (and mineral rights) located primarily in West Texas. 

Falling oil prices and decreasing returns from the West Texas oil wells could squeeze the Systems aswell as other areas of state government that rely on expensive black gold. Some politicians are already having to cope with the reality that low oil prices mean underdelivering on the important tax-cutting promises that won them their seats. Incoming Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick had been cheering on the campaign trail that school property tax cuts could be made a reality, but massive moves like that would require much more money this session to be feasible.

Like a fan’s relationship with Longhorn football, our relationship as students with low gas prices is complicated. Any benefit we get at the pump also has very real implications about how much we have to pay for school. Maybe the Board of Regents will decide in the future that tuition will go up again. In the meantime take advantage of the good prices and finally take that road trip to Marfa you’ve been putting off so long.  

Matula is a finance senior from Austin.

If there is any consistency in Texas politics, it’s about taxation. The Republican Party sees it as pure evil — and no, that is not hyperbole. The Texas GOP’s platform advocates for the repeal of the 16th amendment, which allows for a federal income tax, and for the total abolition of capital gains and property taxes, among others. Accordingly, when a Democrat rants and raves about a Republican opponent wanting to raise taxes, it should raise more than a few eyebrows.

Mike Collier, the Democratic nominee for Comptroller, which is the state’s chief treasury and financial official, recently accused his Republican opponent, State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Harris County, of wanting to engage in a massive tax hike. A recent television ad by Collier pledged to “hold the lines on taxes.” So, for a party so hell-bent on dismantling sources of government revenue, how on earth could one of its candidates be accused of raising them?

Hegar, like his party, is in favor of abolishing property taxes, although they are the largest single source of revenue for local governments in this state. Specifically, municipalities and school districts receive inordinate amounts of their revenue from such sources. Texas’ property taxes are high compared to the rest of the country, but they occur in the complete absence of a state income tax — something few other states boast.

The problem, of course, is that Hegar would not be content simply gutting a major source of revenue and then allowing the state to flounder helplessly toward bankruptcy. Rather, he voiced an alternative solution: upping the state’s sales tax to compensate for the loss. 

“I don’t like the property tax, never have. I think we should replace it,” Hegar said at a campaign forum in January. “The best thing to replace it with is a consumption type tax, sales tax per se.”

Analysis from Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey confirms the suspicion that fully replacing the property tax with an expanded sales tax would raise the rate to nearly 25 percent. To review some simple arithmetic, this would mean that a $50,000 automobile would have a tax bill of $12,500 — no small potatoes.

When I asked Collier about the prospect of Hegar’s sales tax, he doubled down on his tax hike rhetoric, saying, “It’s the worst decision I’ve ever seen,” and adding that it would “dampen our economy,” be “unfair” and “deeply regressive to poorer people.” This view was echoed by students here on campus.

“A sales tax always disproportionately burdens those of lower incomes,” said Taral Patel, a University-wide representative in Student Government. “Many students are on loans or work to make ends meet usually on a minimum wage, and Senator Hegar’s 25-percent sales tax causes significantly more burden to students because we can barely afford the high costs of tuition as it is.”

Indeed, simple economics teaches us that flat taxes are inherently regressive, because those with less money must dedicate a larger proportion of their limited funds than those with means. A sales tax is the epitome of such a scheme, with all of society’s most vulnerable demographics — the young, the old and the impoverished — being hit the hardest.

For the vast majority of us — left and right — it is not a joyous occasion to have hard-earned income garnered by the government. Just about everyone dislikes taxes, but the ugly truth is that they pay for the things we use every day, including bridges, parks, roads and schools. If one of the biggest taxes in the states is done away without equal offsets in spending, it would logically have to be replaced by another irksome tax.

A 25-percent sales tax, however, would not merely be equally irksome to the property tax; it would be much, much worse, especially for students. In today’s political system, the benefits of governmental services must be paid for by the detrimental effects of taxation. Granted, were Hegar to win, his position would not allow him to make changes to Texas’ tax laws. Still, his ridiculous rehtoric could sway lawmakers, who can make changes to the tax code. Consequently, voters should have a say in making sure those taxes are not too detrimental to society’s most vulnerable groups.

 Horwitz is a government junior from Houston. 

Though the upcoming statewide races for positions beyond governor may not have captured student attention, one idea by the leading candidate for state comptroller could have an effect on rent prices and students' ability to buy a house after graduation.  

State Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy — a candidate for state comptroller — recently expressed his unequivocal opposition to state property taxes, indicating he would like to get rid of the tax altogether and replace it, instead, with an increased consumption tax (i.e. sales tax). 

Hegar believes property taxes put an unfair burden on citizens. As he said at an event last month, “As long as we pay taxes, we have to ask, ‘Do we really own our property?’” 

Eliminating the tax, however, would not only be detrimental to all of the government programs that our tax dollars fund — including the University of Texas. It would also fail to decrease an individual’s tax burden.

According to a 2012 tax policy report, the switch from a property tax to a sales tax would necessitate a 25 percent sales tax to earn back the lost revenue. 

Our state’s current maximum sales tax rate of 8.25 percent is already on the upper end — we rank 11th in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. An increase to 25 percent would give us the highest tax rate in the nation, nearly triple Tennessee’s 9.44 percent combined state and average local sales tax rate, which is currently the highest in the nation. 

Moreover, funding for cities, counties and schools would be even more vulnerable to economic ups and downs if we switched to a sales tax, since consumption spending is directly tied to our economic well-being: In times of recession, we focus our purchases on non-durables such as food and basic necessities, while, in times of plenty, consumers are more likely to splurge on expensive durables that would rake in more money for the state. 

Although under current Texas law, property is only subjected to local taxation. Texans have been paying property taxes from the beginning of the republic. Though voters abolished the statewide tax through an amendment in 1982, local taxes are still allowed. So, since 1979, real and business personal property owners have paid taxes based on the appraised value of their property, according to a 2011 report by the Texas House of Representatives. 

Based on figures from current Texas Comptroller Susan Combs, the total property tax levy in Travis County for 2010 was $2,303,173,357 or $2,249 per capita, putting us in the mid range for counties in Texas. The levy, and others like it, is used to fund day-to-day operational costs of government activities, as well as to service any debts. Granted, taxes have grown substantially in the past decade (188 percent from 2002-2010). But a lot of that increase has been fueled by special purpose districts, i.e. community college or water control districts. 

The comptroller’s latest transparency report says that, while the taxes levied by counties and school districts have not changed substantially since 1992, the number of special purpose districts that levy property taxes has increased by more than 45 percent.

These special purpose districts have accounted for 87 percent of the growth in local entities levying property taxes since 1992. The most common types of special district property taxes are municipal utility districts, emergency services districts, hospital districts, water control and improvement districts and college districts. So the money garnered from many special property districts has literally been going to fund infrastructure projects and services, such as hospitals, libraries and community colleges, at least according to the state’s records. 

Hegar’s predecessor in the comptroller’s office, provided he wins the position in the general election, was Susan Combs, who has held the position since 2006 and is retiring this year.

Combs and Hegar are both Republicans. Yet, it’s sad to think how far the party seems to have fallen since 2006. Combs, a Republican, authorized the transparency reports cited in this article that explain where our property tax dollars are going and underscore how important the tax revenue is for our state. Hegar, also a Republican — albeit perhaps a more current representation of the Republican Party in Texas — advocates for removing property taxes altogether and replacing them with an increased consumption tax, a move meant to increase the sense of ownership we have on our property, but, unsurprisingly, backed by little math whatsoever. (Admittedly, Combs had her own problems with math — her revenue estimates for the last biennium were notoriously off-base — but, unlike Hegar, she seems to grasp the basic principle of less being less.) 

Granted, comptrollers and tax collectors do not write tax laws, so, even if Hegar were to win the election, he would not have the power to put in place his ludicrous new tax scheme. The fact that he chooses to campaign on a platform that he cannot even follow through with further takes away from his credibility. Voters should truly think twice before casting a ballot for him in November. 

Horns Down: Aren't you running for comptroller? 

On Monday, state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, released an ad in his campaign for Texas state comptroller. In the roughly minute-long piece, the senator expresses his commitment to both Texas’ “business climate and our unwavering support for the unborn.” The first part we understand as a relevant campaign promise, but his support for the unborn? While we’re sure Hegar’s pandering will appeal to many social conservatives, seeing as the State’s comptroller’s main responsibility is to serve as the “Chief Steward of the State’s Finances,” if he wants to protect the unborn, shouldn’t he stay in the Senate? 

Horns Up: UT-Health Science Center off probation

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio announced this week that it is officially off the probation it was put on in October of 2011 when they lost their accreditation for problems relating to curriculum and faculty issues. For some students, the lack of  accreditation may have been the main factor in deciding to go somewhere else — potentially somewhere out of state — for medical school. With the current shortage of physicians in the state, this return to full accreditation is good not just for the health science center but for all of Texas. 

Second Special Session: A cast of characters to follow

Editor's Note: The Texas legislature started the second special session on Monday, July 1, without much fanfare. But following the dramatic ending to the first special session, there are sure to be dramatic moments in the coming days. Lawmaking is a messy and confusing business, and it is easy to get confused with so many different people involved. The Daily Texan has thus prepared a list of people you need to know to survive the second special session. You can try to memorize this list now, or just refer back to it throughout the session when you have questions. People are listed in alphabetical order.

 

Wendy Davis:

Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, obtained national attention when she successfully filibustered SB 5, the abortion legislation of the first special session. Some have said that Davis’s filibuster has “revitalized”  the Democratic party in Texas, and others are predicting she may run for Texas governor in the future.

On Twitter, Davis now has more than 120,000 followers. Before her filibuster, she had less than 3,000.

Despite Davis’s successful filibuster and attention, political analysts have predicted that the redistricting maps Texas Gov. Rick Perry just signed have gerrymandered her out of her district, meaning she may not be reelected.

 

David Dewhurst:

Lt. Governor David Dewhurst presides over the Texas Senate. Among other powers, this means Dewhurst decides on parliamentary procedures, assigns bills to certain committees and controls the budget process.

Dewhurst lost the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate Seat to Ted Cruz in 2012.

Since the events of the  Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth,’s filibuster, Dewhurst has come under fire for his leadership in the Texas Senate. Several different republicans have declared they will be running for his position as lieutenant governor in the next election cycle. Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples and Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson have all declared they are running for lieutenant governor.

Dewhurst has promised to empty and clear out the gallery if the crowd becomes loud again.

 

Glenn Hegar:

Photo Courtesy of Texas Senate

Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, is the youngest member of the Texas Senate. He filed Senate Bill 5 during the first special session, the bill filibustered by Wendy Davis. He filed Senate Bill 1 during the second special session.

Jodie Laubenberg:

Photo courtesy of Texas State Director.

Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, is serving in her fourth term in the Texas House. She filed House Bill 2 in the second special session, which is very similar to the first special session’s Senate Bill 5.

Dan Patrick:

Photo courtesy of Dan Patrick's YouTube channel.

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, is serving in his fourth term in the Texas Senate. Patrick has filed SB 9, which has to do exclusively with abortion-inducing drugs. Following Sen. Wendy Davis’ filibuster of the abortion legislation during the first special session, Patrick declared he was running for lieutenant governor.

During his announcement, Patrick criticized Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and he said the republican party needed a lieutenant governor that was unapologetically conservative.

Cecile Richards:

Cecile Richards is the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has held this position since 2006. She is also the daughter of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

Cecile Richards is an activist, democrat and leader among pro-choice advocates. She came to Texas during the filibuster. She attended a rally on the south steps of the Texas Capitol on July 1, and will likely continue to make headlines if she stays in Texas.

 

Rick Perry:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is the man who called the second special session. Only the governor can call the special session, and only the governor can decide what will be considered on the special session.

Perry, Dewhurst and others have insisted that the abortion legislation is about protecting innocent lives and making the procedure safer for women. Perry has spoken disapprovingly of the filibuster that happened on the last day of the first special session.

“We will not allow the breakdown of decorum and decency to prevent us from doing what the people of this state hired us to do,” Perry said in his statement when he announced the second special session.

Perry has yet to announce whether he will run for Texas Governor again, or if he will run for the Presidency of the United States again.

 

Leticia Van De Putte:

Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, D-San Antonio, has been practicing pharmacy since 1980. She has previously served in the Texas House.

During the last minutes of the first special session, Sen. Van De Putte raised a parliamentary inquiry that many say set off 10 minutes of cheering, screaming and clapping from the gallery that delayed SB 5. This has been referred to as the “citizen filibuster.” Sen. Van De Putte’s question was: "At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”

On the last day of the first special session, Sen. Van De Putte returned to the Texas Senate following her father’s funeral.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed Ernest Aliseda and Jeff Hildebrand to the Board of Regents in February, and he reappointed Paul Foster. The appointees have to wait till they are confirmed by the senate before they can begin serving.

The Senate Nominations Committee unanimously approved three nominees to the UT System Board of Regents Tuesday after putting them on the chopping block just one day ago and interrogating them about how they felt about UT-Austin President William Powers Jr.

McAllen Judge Ernest Aliseda, energy CEO Jeffrey Hildebrand and current UT Regent Paul Foster need to receive a two-thirds majority vote from the full Texas Senate before they are official regents.

Committee members vetted the nominees for four hours Monday, which officials said is the longest time spent considering nominees this session.

If they are approved, the three regents will play an important role in the ongoing power struggle between the board and Powers. All nominees were appointed by Gov. Rick Perry, who has clashed with Powers on tuition prices and other matters.

Their terms would expire Feb. 1, 2019.

The board has been accused of micromanaging UT and plotting to force Powers out of office. Senators on Monday warned the nominees against planning to fire Powers or making his life difficult to try to force him to resign.

“I believe that any plan to fire Bill Powers, any plan to arrange an exit, graceful or otherwise, any plan to force him to resign, any plan to make him so miserable that he or his wife should decide he should resign, would be detrimental to the University of Texas, to our state,” said Sen. Juddith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.

The three nominees denied any plan to oust Powers. Hildebrand said he was an independent thinker and would not have accepted the nomination if he was told he had to vote in a certain way.

Foster said although Powers was stubborn and difficult to work with, the board has never had any conversations on forcing him out. However, Foster said the board has discussed Powers voluntarily resigning at his own time.

“There is no conspiracy effort [to fire Powers] or hidden agenda that I’m aware of,” Foster said.

All nominees said they would work to fix the rift between Powers and the board if approved.

Earlier:

Members of the Senate Committee of Nominations put three nominees for the UT System Board on Regents on the spot Monday for four hours and hammered them with questions on the job security of UT President William Powers Jr.

Senators spent the majority of the meeting interrogating current UT Regent Paul Foster, who was reappointed by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, on whether there was any board plan to fire Powers or force him out of office. Legislators also expressed frustration at the public scandal between board and Powers and demanded regents move on.

All university regents are appointed by Perry and must be confirmed by the Senate. Nominations committee chairman Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, said he expected to have a decision made by late Monday or Tuesday.

Foster acknowledged there was a rift between Powers and the board, and even said the regents – albeit informally - spoke about him voluntarily resigning.

“There have been discussions about him transitioning out at some point when he’s ready on his terms, not on anything else,” Foster said.

He said the board has never had any conversations on forcing Powers out.

Legislators asked nominees Ernest Aliseda and Jeffrey Hildebrand if they were brought in to join in the witchhunt against Powers. Both said they did not have any plans to fire the UT president.

All three nominees have donated to Perry over the years. Aliseda currently has two kids at UT-Austin and is a graduate of Texas A&M University. He is the managing attorney for the Loya Insurance Group and acts as a municipal judge for the city of McAllen.

Hildebrand graduated from UT-Austin and is the CEO of Hilcorp Energy Co. Foster has been on the board since 2007 and is the current vice chairman. If approved, they would serve until Feb. 1, 2019.

Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, and Sen. Juddith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, were some on the most outspoken members in Monday’s cross-examination. Watson asked Foster about an email sent last year by UT Regent Alex Cranberg, which criticizes Powers.

“I actually expect (Powers) to hold out an olive branch if he is smart and wants to accomplish something,” Cranberg said in the email. “I’m idealistic and keep forgetting that his agenda is egotistical, to be a hero figure and not a doer.”

Zaffirini praised Powers and said she believes there is an ongoing effort by the regents to fire Powers or force him to resign. She warned the regents against this, saying such a move would have a negative impact on UT’s reputation and on the state of Texas. 

“Do you understand that Bill Powers, the president of UT-Austin, is not only respected and admired, but I would dare say loved by members of legislature?” Zaffirini asked the nominees.

“If Bill Powers were fired, all hell would break loose,” Zaffirini said.

Foster said every time some issue with Powers comes up, there is a very organized campaign of public outcry, including a flood of phone calls and media coverage, which frustrates the regents. However, Foster said he is willing to move past the drama and work with Powers.  

Nominations Committee Chairman Hegar closed the meeting and urged the nominees to focus on the students and the UT System, not on the scandal between the board and Powers.

“Move beyond the controversy because I can tell you as a legislator, I’m tired of hearing about this issue,” Hegar said.

Contact Jody Serrano at jserrano@utexas.edu or follow her on Twitter @jodyserrano.

Concealed handgun license holders could carry on university campuses if the Texas Legislature approves a bill going before the House of Representatives on Saturday.

The bill, authored by State Rep. Allen Fletcher, R-Cypress, would authorize university administrators to establish rules prohibiting concealed handguns in buildings located on campus only after consulting faculty, staff and students.

Fletcher said the bill would “decriminalize” possessing concealed handguns on campus. He said license holders would have to meet the age requirement — 21 and over — and will have completed background checks and training.

“It won’t be a bunch of 19-year-old freshmen running around at frat parties with guns,” Fletcher said. “They will be over 21.”

Similar legislation has stalled in the Senate. State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, who chairs the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, has said he would not bring the Senate companion to the bill up for a hearing in the committee.

Whitmire said Thursday if the House passes Fletcher’s bill, it could come to his committee for an “unnecessary” hearing or be referred to another committee.

“Whichever committee gets it and looks at it, it’s going to be dead because there are not 21 votes [for the bill] on the Senate floor,” Whitmire said.

A bill that passed out of the Senate Tuesday would allow license holders to keep concealed handguns in their vehicles while on campus. Whitmire voted for the bill and said it was a reasonable compromise. 

The bill’s author, state Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, said he does not see his bill as a substitute to campus carry because the two proposals address two separate ways to carry firearms.

He said instances such as the Jan. 22 shooting at Lone Star College-North Harris do not reflect the behavior of law-abiding concealed handgun license holders. In that instance, the gunman injured three people, including himself, after arguing with a student.

“A piece of paper that has a law on it that’s trying to prevent law-abiding citizens from having their firearm in their car doesn’t stop that deranged individual,” Hegar said. “So we have to separate criminals, people that have intent to do harm and law-abiding citizens.”

State Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, voted against Hegar’s proposal and said he would vote against similar legislation if it came from the House.

“All it does is promote proliferation of guns on public spaces, and I don’t think they have any business in learning institutions, whether it’s in elementary schools, high schools or universities,” Rodriguez said.

UT and UT System officials have repeatedly stated their opposition to legislation allowing handguns on campuses.

UT President William Powers Jr. has signaled his opposition to the legislation throughout this session. UT spokesman Gary Susswein said Thursday that Powers’ stance has not changed.

“President Powers’ position on this issue has been clear,” Susswein said. “He does not believe guns on campus are a good idea.”

In a March 12 letter, UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa told Gov. Rick Perry he does not believe the presence of concealed handguns on campus would create a safer environment.

State Sen. Brian Birdwell, R-Granbury, authored the Senate version of campus carry rejected by Whitmire. Birdwell said the presence of handguns does not mean an increase in crime or violent incidences.

“If that were the case, then we would have the shootings at the grocery stores, the Starbucks, all the places where you can lawfully carry your CHL,” Birdwell said. “To make that assumption is ludicrous.”

Representatives Drew Darby, Lyle Larson and Senator Glenn Hegar discuss solutions to Texas’ drought problem at the Cactus Cafe Monday night. According to the panelists more than 90 percent of the state is currently experiencing some level of water shortage.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

A panel of state legislators presented ideas and proposals for solving Texas’ water shortage at the Cactus Cafe on Monday. 

Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy; Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo; and Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, emphasized that more than 90 percent of the state is in some level of drought right now, and the reservoir levels of West Texas are low.

The panel members agreed that focusing on funding a water plan is the first step in preventing what could become a statewide water shortage. 

“That doesn’t mean that, from a state perspective, we as taxpayers have to fund all of that,” Hegar said. “But we as state taxpayers have to put some dollars into it to begin to get partway down that road.”

Larson said the plan will prioritize regions affected most by drought by analyzing data collected over the past decade. He said there also needs to be a local effort.

“The other part is that we want to make sure that the areas that will be using this money are maximizing their conservation efforts,” Larson said. “There is a huge amount of water we can save, but the state needs to facilitate some of this.”

Darby mentioned how communities need to overcome the psychological aspect of thinking that water is plentiful, particularly in Texas. 

“If you look at the surface water in the state of Texas now, 65 percent of the capacity of our surface water was the projects that were built in response to the 1950s drought,” Larson said. “If you look at the industrial base and population now, we’re using four times more water than we were then.”

Hegar said the city administrator of his hometown of Katy distributed voluntary restriction requests on water use and it wasn’t enough to promote conservation. 

“It’s almost ironic that the time you need to conserve the most is also the biggest revenue generator,” Hegar said.

Darby said certain restrictions on watering communities should be enforced. 

“We need to be OK with our lawns being something less than green,” Darby said. “The new green is brown. That’s really the vernacular we could all use. Brown is cool.”