This past week's announcement from the Texas Health and Human Services Commissioner, Tom Suehs, that he will step down later this summer is just the latest in a trend. The state's Medicaid Director, Billy Millwee, already made such an announcement. Education Commissioner Robert Scott is leaving next month, too.
All three are generally well-respected public servants, and it seems all of them fear working with another radically Republican legislature in 2013.
Read more about what these departures mean below the jump.
|Tom Suehs was especially respected by legislators from both parties beyond his competence, as he often spoke freely about the state's harsh realities. Respect isn't helpful alone, however, as he still leaves with a remark that his post was "challenging."
Milwee said, "There has been no shortage of challenges," and Robert Scott's resignation announcement came after five "grueling" years at the job. Yet, with the way that the Republican legislature has cared for the state, I imagine that these officials' comments were understatements meant to lessen the wounds.
After all, cuts are everywhere, but they go deepest in these always important agencies. Medicaid, Medicare, and our state's public schools were all hit hardest last session. Somehow Rick Perry and Joe Straus have yet to deal with constituents' anger, however, letting the governor's deputies with actual boots on the ground experience the constant complaints.
With multiple statements about his views on the budget for the next legislative session, Governor Perry has already showed his hand. Whoever he appoints next will have a much harder time than the predecessors. At least another 10% cut to all agencies, even before the rest of the legislature makes their slashes, too? No wonder our basic government administrators are fleeing.
With the Supreme Court's ruling on the president's health care law coming, the legislature must come to grips with the reforms (in whatever way they stand). The 2014 dates embedded into the legislation are sure to push the issue further. Texas Republicans dealing with President Obama's healthcare reforms, as opposed to pushing everything off, is sure to be nasty.
Robert Scott had more to worry about, too. House Public Education Vice Chair Hochberg and Senate Education Chair Florence Shapiro were already leaving. Then, after Scott's retirement announcement, House Chair Rob Eissler lost reelection.
So, in come the crazies. In public health and education, crazy will be the name of the game, potentially to a greater extent than in 2011. Would you want to deal with a second round of Tea Party Harassment? I didn't think so, and neither did Tom Suehs, Robert Scott, or Billy Millwee.