Recently Harvey Hilderbran announced he wants to phase out property taxes in Texas, but as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee he let similar bills, authored by Ken Paxton and James White, die in committee. With a House super majority, a conservative governor, and a majority Republican Senate measures like this should have been accomplished but couldn’t due to a Speaker who owes his power to the party that abhors tax cuts.
Instead, House leadership advanced spending down state savings and killed conservative measures including a constitutional spending limit and ending property taxes.
After the session was over, Straus ally Ralph Sheffield said out loud what everyone else knew – that Joe Straus punishes conservatives in his own party, even while kindly keeping the other party alive and kicking. This helps explain why Paxton and White’s bills died, and likely why Hildebrand did not introduce his own version. Straus would undoubtedly kill such measures in 2013 if given the chance, giving Representatives serious about measures like these a lot to think about between now and January.
GOP insiders anticipate Republicans will not hold onto a super majority in the Texas House, but insiders always tamp down Republican expectations. They were predicting 82 Republicans this time last cycle. The Presidential ticket promises some major down-ballot help to Republicans.
Still, it remains to be seen what the House makeup will be when the dust settles. If the GOP loses seats measures like these will only be possible with a new speaker who believes in them. If the super majority is retained, the only way they don’t get accomplished is if the Democrats keep their man in charge of the House.
Yesterday Lyle Larson praised Speaker Joe Straus for his leadership, leadership that made the tea party electoral revolt of 2010 into something much more tame – into a “conservative swing”. Playing the Democrat’s nursemaid, Straus is publicly standing in the way of spending limits, a measure 95% of Republican primary voters demanded in May’s election.
Larson is trying to do his bit for Democrats by helping Joe Straus, but these games keep getting easier to see through.
Larson’s piece: here