Thursday, June 8, 2017

#TXLEGE: IF SUCCESSFUL, Abbott's fiscal game changers will put left on road to extinction....

"The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty,
But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty."
Proverbs 21:5

Having had a couple days to digest Governor Abbott's special session call, we keep returning to one inescapable conclusion: This is what Scott Walker did in Wisconsin...on super-duper steroids.

The proper way to interpret Governor Abbott's proposed agenda isn't just in the context of summer 2017; it's in the context of 2019, and 2021, and 2023....

Take a look at the following 11 items, and consider what they have in common:
  • Administrative flexibility in teacher hiring and retention practices.
  • Allowing parents of special needs children to use public school dollars for private schools.
  • Limiting growth of local property taxes.
    • Note: In his press conference Tuesday, Governor Abbott said "SB 2 or better."
  • Caps on state and local spending.
  • Preventing cities from regulating what property owners do with trees on private land.
  • Preventing local governments from changing rules midway through construction projects.
  • Speeding up local government permitting process.
  • Restrict cities' ability to annex property.
  • Preempting local restrictions on mobile devices in automobiles.
    • Note: In other words, in exchange for a fairly toothless statewide bill, he's going to nuke the local revenue collection racket.
  • Prohibiting public employers from collecting union dues.
  • Prohibiting local governments from sending tax dollars to abortion providers.
What do each of these 11 items have in common?!?  They significantly weaken the various and sundry bureaucracies that send taxpayer funded lobbyists to the Capitol.  And, as these bureaucracies are weakened, their ability to buy votes and plague future legislative sessions similarly declines.

Think about it this way: It'll be a lot easier to eliminate property taxes in 2019 or 2021 if the cities and counties have been forced to live under spending caps for 2 or 4 years.  Likewise, on the education side, "administrative flexibility" is a marvelous euphemism for taking a bite out of the socialized education industrial complex...which means it'll be a lot easier to pass a significant education reform measure in 2 or 4 years.  Finally, if these fiscal restraints come to pass, we doubt the cities will retain the basic bandwidth to fight constitutional carry in future sessions.

And that's before we consider the political impact of the union dues bill, which people don't fully comprehend.  If the union dues bill passes then over the next decade Harris County will turn solidly red, Dallas County will turn purple, and even Travis County will become a significantly lighter shade of blue.  Furthermore, given everything else on the special session agenda, we don't think Joe Straus has enough political capital left to kill this a third time.

As noted above, there's a political model: It's called Wisconsin.  There, by confronting and defunding the institutional left, Scott Walker turned a solidly blue state into a solidly (if narrowly) red state over the course of four election cycles (ie. it didn't happen overnight).  And a similar phenomenon, only supercharged, will take place in Texas if we're smart enough to take the first step during this special session.

Now, obviously, these items need to pass.  Equally obvious, given that we're talking about the Texas legislature, we expect House leadership to commit copious amounts of villany attempting to derail them.  But our gut says that House leadership's top priority will be to kill the bathroom bill, and that in order to accomplish that objective they're going to have to let a boatload of this fiscal stuff through.

And the fiscal stuff is game changing.

Bottom Line: Play the long game people....

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