Having passed the pro-life legislation, Texas House Republicans are doing what they do best and hoping the voters won't notice; a must-read piece from Empower Texans, money quote:
To no one’s surprise, the Texas House choose easier spending over common sense protections for the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund. When given an opportunity to put a “floor” for the ESF into the transportation funding bill debated yesterday, 20 moderate Republicans sided with Democrats instead of conservatives.
During the 1st special session, House and Senate leaders tentatively agreed to a transportation-funding bill SJR 2 that would have diverted half of the oil and gas severance taxes that fill the ESF into the State Highway Fund. To ensure that the would still maintain a healthy balance despite half the revenue, the Senate added a provision to stop the funding diversion if the balance fell below a minimum threshold.
This time around, House leadership caved to Democrats and passed out of the Appropriations committee without the same constitutional protection for the ESF that was present in SJR 2. With reasonable protections on the ESF, reports say, Democrats would withdraw their support of the bill – which would have made it much more difficult to meet the 100 vote threshold needed to pass a constitutional amendment.
Freshman State Rep.Ron Simmons offered an amendment to add the safeguard provision back in, requiring the ESF to have balance equal to 1/3 of its capacity before oil & gas taxes could be funneled off. Of course, moderates seeking more sources of revenue sided with Democrats and supported a motion to table the amendment on unofficial count of
70 – 49.
One positive to take away from yesterday is that only 92 members voted to pass HJR 2 on 2ndreading. Because it amends the state constitution, it will require a hard 100 votes on 3rd;reading in order to be submitted to the voters in November. Though with more than 20 members absent, House leadership will be whipping hard for eight more votes by the time they reconvene on Thursday.This is disappointing, but not surprising; read the whole piece here.