I bet most of you are saying, what? No way. They suck! They’re idiots! They’re spineless RINO’s!
At least that is the feeling I get when I read various Twitter and Facebook posts from “citizen activists” from either side of the aisle. No one, it seems, is happy about the recent 82nd Texas Legislative session.
Except me, I guess.
What I see when I reflect back over the session is awesomeness for conservative principles. The political leaders of Texas, chosen overwhelmingly in an election a scant eight months ago, stared down recessionary revenue drops, cut the fat out of the budget, and balanced the budget without raising taxes.
I can hear it now: yeah, but! Yeah, but they used accounting tricks! Yeah, but they should have cut more! Yeah, but….whatever.
Fact is, your taxes won’t be going up. Fact is, the budget is statutorily balanced. Fact is, Texas remains the brightest star in this collection of states called the United States.
So get over it already. Congratulate the state’s leaders for a job well done. Let’s see what the three top leaders had to say.
First, Gov. Perry:
I'm proud of Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, Speaker Joe Straus and lawmakers' principled leadership to pass a balanced budget that doesn't raise taxes and preserves billions unspent in our Rainy Day Fund, leaving our state on firm fiscal footing for the future. The decisions made were difficult, but lawmakers should take pride in the fact that they did what families all across Texas are doing: living within their means.
Ultimately the measures we have worked together to complete this session will keep Texas a model of good, efficient and limited governance that other states and the federal government should follow.
Second, Lt. Gov. Dewhurst:
I want to congratulate all of our Members, Speaker Straus and Governor Perry on one of the most conservative sessions in Texas history," said Lt. Governor Dewhurst. "I have enjoyed working together to make Texas an even better place to live, work and raise a family. When you consider the challenges we faced − particularly with the budget − it's remarkable that we were able to get so much done. We have proven once again there is no limit to what we can accomplish when we put Texans first.
And third, Speaker Joe Straus:
Since day one of the 82nd legislative session, the members of the Texas House have worked diligently to address the important issues impacting the people of Texas," said Speaker Straus. "We balanced the state budget with no new taxes, passed required redistricting legislation and worked to protect the precious privilege of voting, among other central issues. Though the going was never easy, I’m proud of the work the Texas House has accomplished.
What did they accomplish and where did they fail? The Texas Tribune has a good recap of the major issues: Sine Die Report: What Survived, What Died.
But, but, what about MY issue! It failed! Well, maybe your particular issue did. That doesn’t negate the fact that this legislature was very, very successful for Texas. Let’s look at a few of the accomplishments as listed by the Lt. Gov. and Speaker:
- Balanced 2012-13 biennial state budget that uses no new taxes, is fiscally responsible and lives within our means.
- Provided $1.6 billion more dollars directly to our state’s public schools, a 5.6 percent increase in state funding.
- Reduced All Funds spending by over $15 billion from the 2010-11 budget.
- Passed all four redistricting maps required this year.
- Promoted accountability and transparency in state government and in higher education and passed major sunset legislation including needed changes to the Texas Youth Commission.
- Reformed and updated the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to protect homeowners along the Texas Coast.
- Protected the voting rights of military personnel who serve our country in the armed forces.
- Passed Governor's emergency items including private property protection, sonogram legislation, tort reform that further curbs lawsuit abuse and Voter ID legislation that protects the integrity of the ballot.
- Saving nearly $6.5 billion in our Rainy Day Fund.
- Passing a historic "Loser Pays" tort reform law to reduce frivolous lawsuits.
- Protecting the Second Amendment rights of Texas gun owners.
- Providing flexibility for school districts with their management and operation.
Not bad, eh? You wouldn’t know it from listening to these “citizen activists” and pundits though. Especially when it comes to education. You no doubt have heard that this legislature “decimated” our public schools. Ha. What they actually did was INCREASE funding, as noted by Speaker Straus:
Texans may be surprised to learn that the state budget being finalized during this special session will provide $1.6 billion more dollars directly to our state’s public schools than the last budget. Though we were not able to fund growth, in a year of real and deep budget cuts in most areas, our school districts will get a 5.6 percent increase in state funding, from $27.6 billion in the current two-year budget cycle to $29.2 billion for 2012-13.
That’s because even in lean times and during one of the most difficult budget challenges our state has ever faced, legislators made Texas schoolchildren our highest priority.
If school district administrators will do as good of a job as this legislature did in cutting the fat, they will not have to lay off a single teacher. Whether or not they do it remains to be seen but the state’s leaders have shown them the way.
But still, the criticism is loud and boisterous. Organizations such as Empower Texans are releasing “Indexes” which “prove” that some reps are “better” than others because they do as they are told. I’ve already received a robocall attacking my Rep. John Davis (R-129) from Empower Texans. This was left on my home recorder today:[audio:empower-texans-attack-john-davis-06302011.mp3]
Unbelievable. John Davis is one of the finest men you will ever meet and takes his responsibilities seriously and is a rock solid conservative citizen of Texas. It is absurd for this organization to be attacking him, saying that he didn’t live up to his responsibilities. Their "rating" system is extremely flawed.
If you happen to be one that puts social issues first, you need to see what the Liberty Institute has to say about the just concluded session:
While some religious liberty and conservative legislation did not pass, we are proud that Texas showed it stands for protecting women, protecting of innocent human life and taxpayer dollars and protecting the elected State Board of Education that has so valiantly defended teaching about our religious heritage, our U.S. Constitution and American exceptionalism.
We are so thankful that Texas has distinguished itself from Washington, and Texas leaders have shown the rest of the country how to pass a balanced budget without raising taxes.
In all these issues, elected officials responded to the will of the people, and that’s good government.
You can either believe the truth or the spin. Your choice.