A very desperate Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (not his real name) threatened to use the so-called “Nuclear Option” to cram through a deeply flawed property tax bill that will shift the tax burden even more on to lower income Texans. Here’s the deal, under long-standing Senate rules to take up debate on legislation, three-fifths of the Senate, or nineteen senators, must vote to move forward. Patrick has warned that he will throw out the three-fifths rule. This is called the “Nuclear Option” because it will destroy decades of tradition in the Senate, a body that has served as bulwark against bad legislation because the three-fifths rule requires consensus-building and reaching across the aisle. Feckless Republican leadership was ready to go along with Patrick.
But on Monday, hold out Sen. Kel Selinger (R-Amarillo) relented and allowed the bill to come to the floor for debate despite his strong opposition to the substance. It seems that Selinger (one of the only Texas Republicans with any backbone) was willing to allow bad legislation to proceed in order to preserve Senate tradition. Selinger likely recognized that Patrick’s petulant behavior was the bigger danger in the long run than debating a very flawed tax bill. Patrick could have won a pyric victory by exploding Senate consensus – a move that would have long term consequences should the Democrats ever regain power.
And the legislation itself? Patrick’s bill would have capped property tax revenue growth for local governments, special taxing districts and school districts at 2.5 percent a year, a threshold that many local government officials have said is way too low and will negatively impact their ability to provide critical government services like police and fire protection. As a compromise to get Selinger on board, the proposed legislation now sports a 3.5% annual cap. In any event, local governments could exceed the cap with voter approval. The real kicker, however, is the likely tie into a yet to be filed bill that will increase the state sales tax by 1%. That is the most regressive form of taxation and will likely pass.
“I have a recommendation for Ms. Sylvester and her lips and my backend.”
State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo).
The relatively moderate Seliger was responding to comments made by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s senior advisor Sherry Sylvester. Seliger, who had been the longtime chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, was upset after Patrick removed him from that committee and the Senate Finance Committee instead installing him as Chair of the Agriculture Committee. Sylvester remarked that if Seliger “believes serving as Chair of the Agriculture Committee . . . is beneath him, he should let us know and the lieutenant governor will appoint someone else.” Seliger’s remarks got him removed from that position and barred from a Republican caucus. Patrick may not be very smart, but he sure plays hardball. This is a warning to all Texas Republicans who are not willing to tow the ultra right-wing Tea Party line of Patrick and his ilk.
The Republicans who represent a good chunk of the Texas Panhandle in the Texas House and Senate are facing ultra-right wing challengers in the upcoming GOP primary. Merely being a somewhat thoughtful conservative or even considering a Democratic proposal is a dangerous game to play in the Tea Party dominated Texas GOP. If you are unwilling to lick the boots of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, you might just find yourself back home wondering how you aren’t quite conservative enough. Senator Kel Selinger and Representatives Ken King (Lubbock) and Four Price (Amarillo) may be unseated in March. The Texas Observer has more on the far right movement to take down any such “Establishment Republicans.”
The challengers are generally following a playbook developed by Empower Texans, a right-wing enforcement group that targets what it considers establishment Republicans: claim that you are unequivocally conservative and that the other guy is basically a Democrat, all the while vilifying bipartisanship and accusing your opponent of being a big-government patsy who’s soft on abortion.
Far-right groups, including Texans for Vaccine Choice, Texas Right to Life and Grassroots America — We The People are working to knock off the incumbents. And while the Panhandle is one of the reddest parts of the whole country (Trump took 90 percent of the vote in some of the counties here), the area continues to elect Republicans with a pragmatic streak. For instance, King has sought to secure funding for struggling rural schools; Price has been a champion for mental health care; and Seliger refused to divert money from public schools for private school vouchers. Wielding accusations of perceived liberalism, challengers have made the region a battleground in the civil war raging within the Texas GOP.
“College football is grateful to Iowa State for knocking off TCU.”
Accidentally overheard by Red from Dan Patrick – sports radio and TV giant ego and empty suit. The absolute worst of the worst in the sports broadcasting world. Why anyone listens to this moron is beyond Red. TCU was one of the best stories of the year and just fell short against this season’s giant killers – Iowa State.
KGOW – AM 1560 announced that Radio Sports God Charlie Pallilo will be returning to the airwaves just in time for football season. Pallilo’s new show will debut on Monday August 21 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. While that is not a coveted time spot, it will be good to have the knowledgeable and largely congenial host back. Sweet justice would have had him facing off with fathead Josh Innes in morning drive time, but Red guesses Charlie doesn’t want to get up that early.
CP had been on Houston radio more or less continually since 1989 until his abrupt firing in October when he was replaced by the bumbling know-nothing Innes – a move which initially sank KBME AM 790’s ratings. The station has been boosted of late by the success of the Astros.
Gow Media reports that Pallilo will contribute to its CultureMap website and its SportsMap site scheduled to launch this year and will at some point contribute in some fashion to the company’s SB Nation Radio Network.
KGOW has been off Red’s radio listening radar since it ditched The Steve Czaban Show. That show had some issues, but was worth listening to if only for the occasional appearance of Evil Jack. Red simply cannot stomach smarmy radio fascist Dan Patrick.
But Red digresses. Congratulation are in order to Charlie for finding another radio home in Houston and to fans who will once again be treated to the finest sports talk radio show host this city has ever know.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (TP) really, really wanted a vote on one of his pet projects – school vouchers. After getting the increasingly right-wing Texas senate to pass a bill that would create education savings accounts allowing parents to remove children from public schools and send them to private alternatives, and provide tax breaks for businesses offering donations to help pay for private schooling. The measure went down in flames in the Texas House – about the last bastion of occasional sanity in GOP-dominated Texas politics. The House voted 103-44 to reject Patrick’s plan. Democrats and rural Republicans torpedoed any chance of passage. Republicans wonder how they sell a bill that would reduce public school funding to parents who actually like public schools and have a harder time selling Patrick’s patchwork plan to rural voters where the public schools are the only option.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and the Tea Party dominated Texas Senate are working diligently to restrict local governments from straying too far from his conservative vision – the will of the local voters be damned.
The read out: Many of the Legislature’s most conservative members don’t like what they see.
On Monday, a Senate panel heard accusations that city governments abusively have tried to squelch ballot initiatives and complaints that school districts and other local taxing entities too often aren’t candid when they ask voters to approve bond issues.
It was a preview of more fights to come in next year’s legislative session over bonded indebtedness and local control on issues that include transgender people in bathrooms, red-light cameras and fluoride in the drinking water.
Last fall, Patrick asked the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee to study whether more information about proposed local borrowing should be provided to citizens in the voting booth and whether about 300 “home rule” cities have too much leeway in flicking off unwelcome referendum petitions.
As suspected, Texas conservatives are all for smaller and more local government – except that is when they disagree with the outcome. Then big state government has to come into play to enforce Tea Party ideological purity. And next to the word “hypocrite” in the dictionary – big picture of your Lt. Gov.