Thursday, January 25, 2018

#TXLEGE: Abbott's property tax plan likely faces similar trajectory as Perry's 2013 "Budget Compact"....

"That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun."
Ecclesiastes 1:9

We've seen this movie before.

Setting: The Governor of Texas announces a fantastic fiscal policy proposal a year before the next legislative session.  The Lt. Governor signs on and the relevant activist/policy groups tout it's merit.  Then, once session gets underway, the proposal dies due to a combination of a couple intransigent Senators, a house that likes to spend money (no matter what they say on the campaign trail), and a Governor too distracted to get his own policy proposal implemented.

We've discussed more than once how Rick Perry's 2013 "Texas Budget Compact" proposal was our formative experience in the Texas legislature.  It's worth reviewing that history in the context of Greg Abbott's current property tax proposal.  We don't think all that much has really changed.

In 2012, following the collapse of his first Presidential campaign, then-Governor Rick Perry returned home and outlined a very strong package of budget/transparency reforms he wanted to see the legislature implement.  Under pressure from Ted Cruz during their original U.S. Senate race, then-Lt. Governor Dewhurst quickly signed onEmpower Texans and TPPF did everything right.

Then, we got into the legislative session in 2013.  Joe Straus did what Joe Straus does.  Dewhurst, despite a good faith effort, couldn't line up the votes he needed in the Senate.  And Rick Perry was more interested in bashing California on Fox News than doing the day-to-day work of the Governor of Texas.

Sound familiar?!?

To be fair, a few things have are different since then, specifically:
  • The Senate has a) changed the 21-vote threshold to 19, and b) grown significantly more conservative in its membership.
  • Joe Straus, personally, is leaving.
Both of those changes are positive...but it's an open question whether either is a big enough to get Abbott's property tax proposal across the finish line.

While Abbott's proposal has a decent chance in the Senate, it's not a slam dunk.  Charles Perry pulled some major league shenanigans on property taxes during the recent special session.  Bob Nichols is always a wild card.  There's a 50/50 chance Seliger returns.  Even if Lt. Governor Patrick can line up 19 votes, doing so could easily involve icky legislative trade-offs.

On the house side, as the membership currently stands, 76 votes DO NOT EXIST for Abbott's proposal.  That's true regardless of the next speaker's identity.  For that to change, conservatives are going to need to have a very, very good primary season.

A better speaker can get a bill to the floor, but you still need 76 votes.

Bottom Line: Don't get your hopes up.

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