On the Agenda: Next session could be more pragmatic, less angry
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In less than a month, the Texas Legislature will begin wrestling with the problems of a fast growing state of 25 million people and a $1.3 trillion gross domestic state product, the second highest in the nation.
Despite the size of the Lone Star State, Texas lawmakers meet only 140 days every two years, which is both a strength and a weakness. It means we simply don’t have the time to indulge in all the mind-numbingly silly partisan games that has left Congress with an embarrassingly low 15 percent approval rate. Our short and infrequent sessions mean we have to actually must resolve serious questions with tight deadlines.
The flip side is that passions of the moment frequently undermine sound policy choices. So, how will this session be different from the last?
Chest beating against Washington and President Obama will still be reliable Republican crowd pleasers. Gov. Perry will declare some small ball emergency items intended to gin up applause in future presidential debates.
The Ron Paul wing inspired Texans for Fiscal Responsibility will seek to replay its role of last session by generating so much fear of a bad report card, Republicans will jump every time they get a tweet.
Nationally, many think Tea Party candidates arguably killed Republican chances of winning the White House and the Senate.
Even in Texas they didn’t dominate this legislative election cycle as much as in 2010. In contrast, business leaders tell lawmakers they need to spend money on schools, roads, electricity and water to continue the Texas economic miracle. Fortunately, about half of this Republican freshman House class were former locally elected officials trained in problem solving, not ideology.
Democrats still have no political strategy or organization, but they did gain seats in the House and held on to one they were supposed to lose in the Senate.
The best we can hope for is that this session will be a lot less angry and more pragmatic than the last. We can only hope they spend the 140 days more on substance and less on rhetoric.
Texas politics and government are rarely what they seem. Join
publisher Harvey Kronberg every Monday as he shares the stories behind the stories in
. Kronberg has covered the Capitol for more than 20 years, and he knows where to find the scoop.