Friday, July 22, 2005

Friday Rant, Anybody Heard From Krusee or Gattis?

I've been searching the internet ever since the governor started calling special sessions in June and there is almost nothing in the media from Rep. Krusee and Rep. Gattis about what is going on. The only thing I've been able to find is this article, Texas legislators see abrupt end to summer recess, from the The Cameron Herald - dated June 23, 2005 - which has a few quotes from Rep. Gattis in it. Here's my favorite:
"There's no plan that has been openly discussed," said Dunnam. "I think it would be more constructive to spend a little time to talk about alternatives before we get into the confines of a special session."

"It's not the sticking point. I see it as the starting point," said Gattis. "We were very close in May. We'll begin negotiations there. I think there always is a way to agree when you have time to sit down and reflect on what everybody's positions are. It's the art of politics and compromise. It's how we get things done."
There are those words again and thanks for the art lesson. Art is always in the eye of the beholder. Rep. Krusee, not a peep. I guess since vouchers are not on the agenda these two guys really don't have much to bring to the conversation. I'm sure they'll just vote how the Speaker wants them to vote.

Former Statesman columnist Dave McNeely has this to say about the current state of things:
The reason everything went into the ditch is that both houses of the legislature are so divided they can't get anything that gets sufficient agreement.

This is a different bunch, with a different House speaker and lieutenant governor. They're all Republicans, and a large majority of the House and Senate are Republicans.

However, almost all the Democrats don't want to raise taxes unless it's going to education, and don't think the very modest addition to school spending is anywhere near enough.

And while a handful of Republican legislators, more interested in investing in education than skimping, are willing to raise taxes if it results in more money spent on schools, most other Republicans track Republican House Speaker Tom Craddick in simply opposing raising taxes
It's a different bunch, that's for sure. He touches on one topic - the fact that the Republicans can't agree among themselves - that is more along the lines of what was said by the Democrats yesterday in their press conference, "These bills are bad public policy, it's hard to get an agreement on bad public policy, it's easy to get an agreement on good public policy". I'm paraphrasing, but that is what Rep. Garnet Coleman said. He also said that the other reason it's bad public policy is the fact that it raises taxes on 90% of Texans and lowers taxes on the wealthiest 10%. To riterate the other thing they said a few times was that , "they (Republicans) can't agree among themselves". If the Republicans could agree among themselves we'd have had an agreement years ago. They're trying to slide something through the legislature that they can't get a majority of the people in their own party to agree on. They won't vote for it because they're afraid that they won't get reelected if they vote for these bills. Oh they're close alright.

A few more things from the Democrats press conference yesterday. Rep. Gallego was talking about how women should be offended by what Speaker Craddick has done by not appointing any women to his select committee. Not to mention the fact that there are no Latinos or people of color on the committee either. He spoke to the fact that this is a slap in the face (my words) to representative democracy. They also referred several times to the secrecy surrounding all of this. The fact that the Republicans are holding back the bills so members can't look at them until right before the vote and that there will not be any hearings on the bills in their current forms before they are debated in the chambers. They spoke about the fact that the telecom bill was added to the call not because of it's need to be passed for to make things better for the people of Texas. But by putting this on the table then the telecom lobbyists can be brought to bear on the members of the legislature to lobby them to pass HB 2 and HB 3 so the telecom bill can be passed too.

All of this and don't forget that if these bills pass it does not fix the long-term problems with school finance and the fundamental problems with the tax structure in our state. Now Gov. Perry is threatening to stay in through the holidays to get this done:
Indeed, Mr. Perry's office is sounding that theme, warning lawmakers that they will be in the Capitol until an education plan is passed: "If they want to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus in Austin, that's fine with the governor because they are going to stay here until they get this done," said spokesman Robert Black.
It's become an endurance test to pass something, no matter how bad it is, and next session we'll be back her debating this all over again. Hopefully with a new governor and some new legislators.

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