Yesterday marked the beginning of the 83rd Legislative Session which can mean only one thing: another website of gifs (YES! )
This year the Comptroller estimated the budget surplus of 8.8 billion after 2011 yielded the worst budget shortfall in Texas's history. Of course this means that R's can say that the state can now afford to cut even more taxes instead of you know providing, roads, infrastructure, or anything rendering useful to the general public that would resemble what a government is intended to do in the first place; but hey, tax breaks.
After elected Speaker by acclamation, Straus's remarks proved to have “a mature and thoughtful tone” as Rep. Patricia Harless (R-126) testified to in her short speech seconding his nomination.
Instead of crying the typical Republican cattle call of less spending less taxes, Straus hit all the policy problems actually facing the State of Texas today: dramatic population growth, public education, water, and even the problem of burdensome testing in public schools.
“Texas does not face a fiscal cliff, but we do face a demographic cliff,” Straus stated.
“Our rapid growth requires a steadfast commitment to the core responsibilities of government, such as a quality education, a reliable water supply, a healthy transportation system and an honest state budget.”
After the contentious and seemingly continuous election cycle that was 2012 it was refreshing and rewarding to hear the Speaker actually discuss legislative problems and issues facing the State of Texas.
Rick Perry, predictably, did make the cattle call, to still reduce spending (read: not to restore drastic cuts to health care and public education). This was verified today with a joint press conference with Perry, Straus, and Dewhurst saying tax cuts are on the horizon, because in a State that already enjoys some of the lowest taxes in the nation, it's important to reduce them even more while the poor and the elderly suffer from health care and education cuts.
On the other side of the capitol today the Senate passed their rules, preserving the 2/3rds rule for now and only changing where Sunset Bills are referred to in the Senate, from Government Organization where Senator Judith Zaffirini is the current chair to, any other committee Dewhurst feels like.
Today the House passed HR 3, their Housekeeping Resolution setting up House Administration Committee rules and protocol such as salaries, and office budgets (Joe Driver – the state cannot refund your campaign account, but it will still pay your retirement).
The House is expected to take up the actual rules bill on Monday.
Also a very Happy Birthday to Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso (D-78) who is 32 today!