The legislative session is more than half through and things are actually looking pretty darn good- TO THIS POINT.
Remember our declaration in terms of the ‘trial’ of this session:
Our definition of a conservative outcome is that at least five of the following seven items BECOME LAW, with the first one an absolute requirement (none of the games of passing the house, but running out the clock on synchronizing with the Senate will count):
- The budget does NOT get busted- by HONEST math, not by DC-style calculation.
- Open carry (for at least CHL holders):
- Campus carry- the same way
- Medicaid expansion blocked again
- The Enterprise Fund gets stripped to a small fraction of what it is or dissolved outright.
- E-Verify for State Contracts
- Ending in-state tuition for illegal immigrants
So where are we? Well, Item #1 looks pretty good, based on a surge in revenue for Texas. In fact, there is a glorious fight going on between the House and Senate on HOW to cut our taxes $4.5 to $5 BILLION
Senate: Personal- property tax homestead exemption increase; business- raising the exempted amount to eliminate half the businesses entirely from the franchise tax, decreasing the rest 15%
House: Personal- Sales tax reduction; Business- a 25% decrease of franchise tax across the board
Open Carry and Campus Carry passed out of the House yesterday. The Senate also has versions. any discrepancies must be worked out in joint committee.
Medicaid Expansion does not seem to be on track to be considered.
The Enterprise Fund is intact and E-Verify for state contracts is not likely to ever get out of a committee (they say it’s not necessary , since Perry issued an executive order, which can easily be reversed.)
Ending in-state tuition for illegal immigrants is progressing but is iffy to get through.
More progress has been made than frankly was expected, especially on budget (due to available revenue), but it is FAR from over. And NOTHING of substance has passed BOTH houses. Conference committees can quickly turn into the Devil’s playground, so we will see. And there HAVE been losses: the extension of Pre-K passed without it being specifically capped in cost, for example (the vote to remove the budgeting cap amendment, where 27 GOP members joined the Democrats, REALLY identifies the true RINOS. Essentially, the same block stopped Jeff Leach’s budget amendment to stop using state taxes on building toll roads.) So losses will have to be factored in as well as wins.
Just remember: NOTHING COUNTS THAT DOES NOT BECOME LAW! Wins or losses.
The ‘trial’ of the session will be held some time this summer after the regular session and after any special session have been completed. Look for further announcements.
Message to the Texas Legislature: we are watching and taking notes. And we’ve learned a LOT about the games played; actual results are all that matter.