In his interview with UT, Kel Seliger delivered the establishment Republican talking points, all pressure points for increasing the Texas appetite for taxes and government growth.
Before he got to those, Seliger had gentle words for election maps written by two judges that could have been written by a Democrat supermajority. This, of course, in happening in a year with a conservative super majority in the House and 19 Republicans (out of 31 total Senators) in the Senate.
The legislature-drawn maps were bad enough, punishing House conservatives who dared oppose the liberal Republican House leadership in the speaker’s race (a House leadership brought to us by the Democrats and the 11 most liberal Republicans in 2009).
These maps now look good by comparison to the judge-drawn maps. In several minutes of discussion about the map situation Seliger was unable to muster any real support for the AG’s efforts to get them thrown out. Instead of showing his strong support of Attorney General Abbott’s efforts to get the new maps tossed out, Seliger offered some yawning token resistance before turning to things he actually cares about.
The conversation turned to higher education. Seliger spoke about how efficiency isn’t something Texans should desire or expect in higher education, clearly siding with the UT higher education establishment, who are blocking transparency and accountability in higher education while tuition costs skyrocket.
Seliger sits on a legislative oversight committee formed to protect the higher education establishment against reformers. Seliger faithfully delivered their talking points, claiming the reformers had some good points that the oversight committee will consider, but that, on balance, the reformers were dangerous and shortsighted.
The legislative oversight committee for higher ed is like a committee of foxes, having expelled the farmers, assuring the henhouse (tuition payers and taxpayers) they are much better protectors. “Don’t worry,” say the foxes, “just leave us alone and we’ll take care of your security needs.”
Seliger then advocated for increased water spending and highway funding. Seliger opined that our two-year election and budgeting cycles make it hard to have the long-term vision necessary for water and highway funding.
To hear Seliger tell the story, we should all be surprised that our water faucets consistently deliver water and that we have roads to drive on when we exit our driveways. After all, says Seliger, incentive structures are against this outcome.
What reality is this? Texas state spending, adjusted for inflation and population growth, has nearly doubled in the last 20 years. If not enough of the funds have made it to water and roads, the money can be found elsewhere. Tapping into taxpayers more is not what conservative Texans keep winning elections to see happen.
Seliger had nothing to say about efficiency or reform. He focused his entire interview on the need for more revenues. Seliger took opportunities to disparage the tea party movement. He provided a great example of how establishment moderates sound on the trail.
–Kel Seliger interview