The Limits of Scorecards

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Earlier today Konni Burton, the Republican senator from Fort Worth, took the capitol press corps to task on Twitter for its collective disinterest in the EmpowerTexans/Texans for Fiscal Responsibilty’s biennial “Fiscal Responsibility Index,” which was released yesterday. As is typically the case with that particular ranking, the legislators who earned the highest praise were self-declared “fiscal conservatives,” including Burton herself. She was one of three senators, along with Bob Hall and Van Taylor, to receive a perfect score, and the implication, at least, was that the media had ignored this achievement because it didn’t fit our narrative.

I can’t speak for all media, obviously. But I can explain to readers why I ignored this index. I agreed with some of its conclusions (Burton, for example, is clearly a fiscal conservative, and I thought she was the best of the Senate’s true freshmen.) Still, as I said yesterday, the Fiscal Responsibility Index is too garbled to be meaningful. The methodology is distorted, and—as with all scorecards—overly simplistic. That’s why its results are so erratic. 

Just to make sure I’m clear: It’s true that I don’t respect EmpowerTexans as a group or take most of its “work” seriously. But I’m not dismissing the Fiscal Responsibility Index just because I don’t like Michael Quinn Sullivan or his fiscally subliterate belligerence. I’m dismissing the analysis because it’s not good analysis.

A look at the House rankings will show what I mean. Some of the legislators who are ranked highly on the index are genuine fiscal conservatives, such as Matt Rinaldi, who tried to do away with the state’s funding for film incentives, or Matt Krause, who was one of the first representatives to speak out against spending cap gimmicks. But also appearing in EmpowerTexans’s “top ten” are Molly White, Matt Schaefer, and Scott Turner, all three of whom scored a perfect 100, despite showing no serious interest in fiscal issues this session, much less expertise. Meanwhile, some of the Lege’s strongest fiscal conservatives are clearly underrated in this particular exercise. Mike Schofield, as a freshman, authored a school finance bill that will give the state a chance to appeal an individual judge’s ruling to a panel of three; that’s a pretty big deal and yet he earns a “C” on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, with a score of 76. Giovanni Capriglione authored legislation that will make Texas the first state to have its own gold bullion depository. In addition to being a fiscally sound idea, the measure caused national observers to denounce Texas for being crazy, which is, no pun intended, kind of the gold standard of conservative behavior. And yet Capriglione scored a 72, or a “C-”.

Most ludicrous of all is the Fiscal Responsibility Index’s assessment of Dennis Bonnen. Over the course of the session he a) single-handedly killed the Senate’s effort to exempt property tax relief from counting as “spending”, by announcing that he wouldn’t even ask the members of Ways & Means to vote on such a ridiculous gimmick; 2) saved the state about $1bn this biennium, and every biennium thereafter, by thwarting Dan Patrick’s initial vision for property tax relief; 3) passed legislation cutting the franchise tax rate by 25%; 4) led the House’s border security effort, which yielded a $565m plan; and 5) demonstrated a grasp of the difference between state and local government that eluded all too many of his peers. If anyone deserves to be named a Taxpayer Champion, it’s Bonnen. And yet he, like Capriglione, could only muster 72 points—barely a passing grade.

Such examples help explain why I ignored the 2015 Fiscal Responsibility Index. Again, that’s just my opinion; I can’t speak for all Texas media. An interesting aside is that EmpowerTexans actually rates Jane Nelson slightly more highly than Bonnen; in that respect, at least, they may be more aligned with the “narrative” than I am. But since Burton inspired me to comment I’d like to add a few more thoughts while I’m at it.

The underlying problem with the Fiscal Responsibility Index has to do with methodology. The group that assembled this scorecard is known for its obsessive antipathy to House Speaker Joe Straus, and that factor alone explains some degree of distortion: House members were scored, in part, on whether they voted for Straus’s re-election as speaker. This proved to be an especially erratic litmus test this year. Straus is demonstrably more fiscally responsible than Dan Patrick, and plenty of fiscal conservatives voted for him because—regardless of ideology—he was more qualified to lead the House than Scott Turner, who officially challenged him this year.

Setting that aside, though, the EmpowerTexans scorecards suffers from the same methodological problem that afflicts all scorecards: it’s a scorecard. It has no way to account for anything other than record votes. There’s no weight given to authoring a bill, or negotiating an agreement that enabled the bill’s passage, or building a coalition of support in favor of your bill, even though all of those activities are harder and more meaningful than pushing a button. A scorecard can’t even correctly account for all the votes that are cast. Jonathan Stickland and David Simpson crossed party lines to vote for Cesar Blanco’s DPS amendment during the House’s marathon budget debate, for example. That showed fiscal responsibility on their part–and it was evidence, to me, at least, that even if they sometimes vote in concert with the scorecard, they’re capable of independent thought and activity. And both are, as it happens, highly ranked on this index, but no mention of that vote is made. Instead, Stickland and Simpson are lumped together in a group that includes Krause and Jeff Leach and Rinaldi, but also White and Schaefer and Turner, as if they’re all the same. They’re not.

And so this kind of box-ticking exercise doesn’t do anyone many favors. A well constructed scorecard may be a reasonable proxy for how the legislators behaved. But the Fiscal Responsibility Index? Like I said, it’s too garbled to be meaningful. It wildly underrates some legislators, and wildly overrates others in a predictable and politicized way. The result is that it does no credit to its own honorees, even the ones who happen to deserve it. 

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  • WUSRPH

    Despite all its problems as a score-card, which are multiple, MQS’s ratings will serve their POLITICAL PURPOSE….that is to attack Joe Straus and the House….You are expecting too much to even image that MQS would take the many nuances and subtleties into account, if he even could figure them out. You know, little things about how the Senate proposed to increase state spending by more than a $1 billion per year and exempt it from his beloved spending limit. The sledgehammer is his tool…..and a fair representation is far from his intent.

    As one who has constructed ratings lists, I can second your point that it is very, very, very easy to make them say almost anything you want. Just pick the right votes and ignore any extenuating circumstances and away you go. Every vote can be absolutely factual. and can withstand any challenge as there is no need to lie when you can handpick your evidence. But you can leave those you want to appear as being bad sputtering as they try to explain little things like nuances and subtleties to there constituents. For example, I once made one of Bullock’s Republican opponents into one of biggest advocates of spending in the Texas Senate ALL WITH FACTUAL VOTES….I was told that it got his literature thrown out of the Ft. Bend County GOP HQs.

    MQS’s scorecard is a perfect example of that kind of a ratings system. You start out to make certain things appear to be true, carefully select the votes to use in your ratings and you get the results you want—18 of the 19 are GOOD, Straus is bad. Simple results for unlearned minds.

    16 days Attaboy It is as easy as 1,2,3

    • That sounds like something a democrat would make up and a democrat would believe.

  • Actually it is simple, how the reps vote on key bills are scored. A yes vote being fiscally conservative and a no vote being not fiscally conservative.
    It isn’t subjective like the TM best and worse lege list, so maybe that is why some have trouble grasping the concept.

    • Crystal Thornton

      But that’s the point. They don’t score every key bill–Only ones the votes of which will tally up to the “right” scores. For example, 2013 session…Drug testing for welfare recipients- not scored. Giving more power to University of Texas regents – scored favorably. Makes no sense unless you realize “fiscal responsibility” is a pretext for political power.

      • You’re saying MQS shapes his scorecard similar to the way the main stream media shapes polls to get the results they’re paying for?
        Noway! I’ve heard of everything now…..

  • Deereman50

    All knowledgeable folks around the Capitol know that MQS is nothing more than a prosititute for Tim Dunn…..period! He’s a joke and actually a CINO! Conservative in name only. His only agenda is to get rid of one of the best Speakers this state has ever had! Close to being Anti-Semitic

    • WUSRPH

      But it is unfortunate that a fairly good sized group of self-proclaimed “conservatives” know only what he tells them. They have been taught not to trust the media (perhaps except for FOX and not always it either) and MQS feeds, encourages and creates their distorted view of the world around them.

      • Jed

        you’re giving one guy way too much credit. the cultural zeitgeist that has created today’s through-the-looking-glass politics is way bigger than MQS.

        is he evil? sure, but he’s just another pawn.

        • WUSRPH

          Yes…he is only one of the people who make it possible for many to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast. But he is the one involved with this particular distorted mirror.

          P.S. I wonder how many Confederate battle flags have been sold since last week? It is a sad that it is probably quite a few.

          • Have I got a deal for you….

          • Jed

            these are pretty awesome cultural artifacts, i morbidly agree.

          • José

            Also false, should that matter to anyone.
            http://m.snopes.com/clinton-gore-92-confederate/

          • Jed

            careful. snopes says “probably false,” and also notes that the buttons may have been made privately or by some other campaign operation.

            it doesn’t say they don’t exist. having been of voting age during that campaign, i have no trouble believing that clinton supporters in alabama (or arkansas, or gore supporters in tennessee) would have thought they were a good idea.

          • José

            What you say is certainly true. It’s also true that many people will believe that these are legitimate items approved by the official campaign and thus “prove” the hypocrisy of the candidates. I never cease to be amazed at the weird stuff that right wingers jump on because it fits their pre-existing biases. Why fact check when you like the fable?

          • Jed

            well, if the fable is that all of america has a race problem, not just republicans, then it isn’t that far-fetched.

            i have been waiting for decades for more widespread condemnation of the continued display and veneration of the confederate flag. what i’d welcome even more is a widespread condemnation of the current state of racial relations. i think the whole thing about the flag is a cop out. i agree that it is onerous, but it is a symptom, not the problem. getting rid of it will just allow moderates to feel better about themselves, without actually solving anything.

          • José

            The fable was that this was an official campaign product, and that the candidate thought it was fine for him to use the symbol then.

            But as for your comments, the question, I suppose, is how much do symbols matter? This one certainly does, not just to those who want it removed now but also to those who want it to stay, whose ancestors put it there 50 years ago as a statement against equal rights for blacks.
            To a large extent I’m with you. Symbolic measures don’t move me personally, not much. But I recognize that for many others they are deeply meaningful.

          • Jed

            i don’t mean to diminish the importance or removing the symbol. that’s a good thin. what disappoints me, though, is that this is where it will end. we will be spared so many confederate symbols, but moderates will stop there and pat themselves on the back. nothing substantive will change.

          • José

            Agreed and agreed. As one pundit said about reactions to the Charleston terrorism, removing the Confederate flag from the SC statehouse is really the absolute minimum that we can do. And unfortunately it is quite likely the only thing that will happen this time. So it’s up to us to keep the matter alive so that the public cannot ignore the more substantive questions, about lingering racism, about domestic terrorists, about the costs to society by the proliferation of handguns.

          • WUSRPH

            After the fall of the Soviet Union (remember it?) there were pictures in the media of statutes and busts of Lenin, Stalin and other Soviet greats in metal salvage yards. Could there come a day when we will see similar pictures of the statutes of some confederates? I doubt it, but it is an interesting thought.

          • don76550

            Oh how interesting. You do know the democrat party established the Klu Klux Klan and was the party responsible for flying all those confederate flags in the south

      • don76550

        The media has taught us to not trust them by their habitual lying and bias.

    • don76550

      Joke? There are a lot of ex legislators who stop laughing at the joke after their primary challenger prevails. More RINOs will be shown the door in 2016

  • WUSRPH

    Good night all.

  • John Johnson

    Konni is my senator from Dist. 10. She wants to brag about the tricked up ET rating, but has no answer for why she and every other Republican senator voted to limit a Texan’s right to sue an insurance company if they refuse to pay a damage claim. How in the world can they justify this? TLR pressure? TLR promises? What? I’ve asked but received no answer. Why do they want to brag about a puny $10 per month in property tax savings when their vote, one storm and a contrary insurance company could put a homeowner in hock for a long, long time. In looking at any major insurance company’s annual profits, does Sen. Burton really think they need her help more than those who voted for her do? Still waiting for an answer. Maybe you can get one, Erica.

    • Erica Grieder

      And as for Burton. Well, let me put it this way. Of all the Republicans in the Senate, the “true freshmen” (her, Hall, and Huffines) are the ones with the best excuse for some of these votes. Burton specifically cast a few votes against leadership (no on the vouchers bill, for example) and, per sources, pushed back pretty frankly in caucus meetings.

      • John Johnson

        Thanks. I needed to hear that. I like “conservative”, just not the radical, trunk to tail variety. I also want one of these newbies to explain exactly what it is, after this last session, that Straus did wrong. What Turner would have done better. I want to be a Konni supporter and will be if she will distance herself from the TLR, ET and the NE Tarrant TP head who encourages people to vote for the Baptists instead of the “anything goes” Methodists. She needs to run from this type of thinking. She doesn’t need any of them to get re-elected. She just needs to make her constituency happy.

        • Anything goes Methodists?

          “”I have always cherished the Methodist Church because it gave us the great gift of personal salvation but also the great obligation of social gospel,”

          What is social gospel if not anything goes?

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/04/26/hillary-clinton-speaking-to-methodist-women-feels-like-a-homecoming/

        • WUSRPH

          I guess he means those Methodists have been taking the Sermon on the Mount seriously again….and that other verse about “what you do for the least of these….” It can be a real problem when religious people starting trying to live their religion.

          • TexasBear

            Bush is Methodist. Cheney is Methodist. Charlie is Methodist too.

          • WUSRPH

            You couldn’t tell from his actions……but why should he have to practice what he preaches?

          • Blue Dogs

            Former TX Governor Perry used to be Methodist, before he left the religion to become a Nondenominational!

          • John Johnson

            Hey, I understand where you’re coming from. We Christians are our own worst enemies. “Why would I want to be like you?” You seen me post this before, but it bears repeating…we need to start being New Testament Christians as outlined in the NT and leave the Old Testament as simply a bridge to the NT. Violence, harsh language, intolerance and the like were meant to be left behind. Somewhere along the way, this most crucial of tenants has been overlooked or ignored. Emphasis from the pulpit on this subject is lacking. The old adage about actions speaking louder than words comes to mind….and yeah, Jed, I have a split personality.

      • WUSRPH

        I like the way you said they had the “best excuse” for some of those votes. In other words, it is not that serious since they did not know it was a bad vote. Kind of like the like the judge reducing the sentence for a criminal conviction if the defendant did not know it was a crime.

      • don76550

        Excuse Erica? These people were elected by their constituents to represent them and that is what they have done. They were not elected to appease pompous pseudojournalists like you.

  • John Johnson

    I also live in Matt Krause’s district. I feel he is going to be a very, very good Rep. I think he has some statesman in him and will learn to distance himself from the trunk to tail group that kowtows to bullies and special interests’ promises.

    • Erica Grieder

      Agreed, Krause is good. I didn’t cover the House in detail in 2013 but this session, at least, I didn’t consider him a “scorecard voter”. (Even in the speaker’s race, he was the only person who gave a nominating speech for Scott Turner that was pro-Turner, rather than anti-Straus.)

      • WUSRPH

        After all, he only got a 98 from MQS and Company……

  • Sen Konni Burton Taxpayer’s Champion….who could possibly be angry about this?

    http://www.breitbart.com/texas/2015/06/23/texas-state-senator-needles-mainstream-media/

  • Texas Publius

    Well done Erica! “Texans for Fiscal Responsibility” is a false and deceptive name. It’s hard to think of something more fiscally irresponsible than voting for a second-term, ex-NFL football player as Speaker of the Texas House over a veteran Speaker with a gold-standard record for being fiscally responsible.

    “Texans for Fiscal Austerity/Bankruptcy” would be more accurate.

    The group’s most accurate name would be “Three or Four Oilmen Who Hired Michael Quinn Sullivan to (1) Pass Vouchers Helping Private Religious Schools and (2) Destroy the Current Texas Higher Ed Model” (both, not so coincidentally, lead to more profits for those 3-4 oilmen’s educational side ventures).

    The problem is the current Speaker hasn’t been wiling to be the 3-4 oilmen’s lapdog on these two issues, so their whole operation has been bent on eliminating him, or at least eroding his power. So it should come as no surprise that their so-called “scorecard” is a cherry-picked list of amendments and amendments-to-the-amendments heavily weighted on (1) did you vote for our latest, willing pawn for Speaker whom we can control, and (2) how did you vote on several of these amendments that would have exposed who we oilmen are and how much $$$ we’re funneling into the lobbying (oops, I mean non-lobbying) efforts in the Texas House?

  • Blue Dogs

    YOU GO GIRL!

  • dave in texas

    Once again, I take pixels in hand to praise a great turn of phrase: fiscally subliterate belligerence. Nicely done, Ms. Greider.

  • WUSRPH

    You see where Lt. Gov. MeNDan has blasted TM for its best and worst list? I guess too many of his team got on the bad list.

    I was able to read the article today at a doctor’s office. I have no real problems with any of their judgments. Really came down hard on Sen. Campbell……but then she more than earned it. I particularly liked her bill to require the posting on the wall of classrooms the “founding documents”…including the Federalist Papers….so that students could read them. I never did figure out exactly how she was going to post a book on the wall…Perhaps nail it by its back cover? But her save the Alamo from the UN had to be right up there with the stupidest bills of the session.

    • Exactly, its called free speech. One can choose to love the subjective TM BestNWorse list or the well thought out MQS rankings.

      and in America we can support without recourse which ideology to support the left’s or the right. And many can sit on the appeaser’s fence and be a “moderate.”

      I. e., I support the American flag symbolizing our nation and the blood shed to defend it.
      Some will demand it be taken down and destroyed.

      http://www.breitbart.com/video/2015/06/24/farrakhan-i-dont-get-debate-over-confederate-flag-we-need-to-put-the-american-flag-down/

      • John Johnson

        There is nothing objective about anything espoused by Sullivan. It is calculated drivel and simply created to award or punish and force compliance to ET’s agenda.

        • Isn’t that what the left does? I don’t understand how anyone can justify an action the left does daily then criticizes when I or another conservatives does the same exact thing.
          Oh I reckon you can if you’re a hypocrite.

          • John Johnson

            Sure it is what they do. You know me…I bash from the middle…or closer to it than you are. I see two adversaries duking it out…both dressed in the same style of trunks…just different colors; both with same gloves…just different colors; both using the same techniques, but thrown in different combinations.

          • eggxactly. The difference I say what I’m doing, but liberals can’t admit they’ve bought into the lie. That would make them fools played by politicians.

    • don76550

      I happen to like Sen Campbell and support her. Guess the voters of her district forgot to get your opinion before voting for her. Oh well.

  • WUSRPH

    Good night all on this the 17th day…..It is as easy as 123

    In anticipation of a possible major ruling by the SCOTUS over the next few days please keep in mind:

    Cooper v. Aaron, 358 U.S. 1 (1958) a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, which held that the states were bound by the Court’s decisions and had to enforce them even if the states disagreed with them.

    Also keep in mind these provisions of the US Constitution:

    Article IV – The States
    Section 2 – The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.

    Article VI. This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.

    The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the members of the several state legislatures, and all executive and judicial officers, both of the United States and of the several states, shall be bound by oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.

    And

    At issue in is the undue burden standard laid out by the Supreme Court in 1992 in Planned Parenthood v. Casey,.

    The ruling held that “the State may enact regulations ….but may not impose unnecessary … regulations that present a substantial obstacle ….”

    “An undue burden exists,” it continued, “and therefore a provision of law is invalid if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path ….”

    Undue burden would also apply to any action by the State to make same-sex marriages impossible in Texas.

    • John Johnson

      Every day that you post a day number is just a reminder to me of how deeply entrenched he is in your head.

  • John Johnson

    Here’s a look at a failed system. It is the same one used in Washington. How many of you, based on how you were taught to budget and balance a checkbook, see something wrong with this plan? Who pays? How do they pay? What happens if they can’t pay? Think our grandchildren are going to hate us?

    Chicago Public Schools Borrowing Millions to Fix Shortfall

    Chicago Public Schools officials plan on borrowing $200 million to meet financial needs, followed by opening a credit line of up to $935 million. Struggles among the district, state lawmakers and the teachers’ union continue as the district tries to work with decreased state funding and unmanageable pension costs. And budget cuts to classroom spending, officials say, are likely. (Chicago Tribune)

    • JJ its documented….

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SyAgQJk4q5c

      Its called “the Chicago Way” , commonly known as “pay to play.”

      • John Johnson

        What do we expect in Washington when we elect a Chicago trained operative to the Presidency, and then watch him surround himself with advisors also trained in the epicenter of graft, corruption, subsidies and runaway debt?

        • WUSRPH

          I am far from a fan of Saul Alinsky’s politics, but I have wonder what is so wrong with the “Alinksy method”…..after all, what he was doing was teaching people who had been underserved by their government how to organize, vote and otherwise express their rights to petition for redress of their grievances—something protected and encouraged by the First Amendment. If anyone else (TPers for example) organizes and advocates for their wants it is considered a good example of the American way. I guess it all depends on who is being organized and what they are asking for.

          • John Johnson

            My post had nothing to do with Alinsky’s organizational methods; my problem is with fiscal ineptitude and the long departed monkeys and their minions who got us started following convoluted, irrational economic plans built on can kicking and money printing. Obama’s lackeys are just following a well worn path. Tell me why “income minus expenses, minus debt equals either a positive or negative number” is so hard to understand? When the number is in the red, we have been hoodwinked by crackpot economists into believing that we should be spending our way back into prosperity. Since debt reduction would mean austerity measures be put in place, the loons’ plans are much more popular with politicians and our selfish generation than the alternative.

          • WUSRPH

            It is going to take a long time to turn the train around especially when as in the case above there is a drastic change in revenue at a short notice. It takes time to even plan a cutback if it is not to cause permanent harm. ..At least the brakes are partially on today.

            We, as you know, have a pension problem here too…and the Leg. finally is doing something about it. They were warned years ago but put off any action until now…. I would like to have see it solved sooner–as Sen. Etlife advocated—but that would have required busting the spending cap but at least it is now on a schedule that will see the problem resolved by 2025 without causing undue problems

          • John Johnson

            We’ll see. I am not holding my breath. I just see more can kicking and more spending. I would still like to know why the Texas debt is not being reduced with the surplus money that until recently was sitting and drawing no interest while we continue to pay interest to unknown banks. More good fiscal policy? Where is the common sense? More stinky stuff? Our surplus sitting in a bank paying us no interest while this same bank loans us money which we pay interest on? Does this bank then show its appreciation by doling out big campaign contributions?

          • WUSRPH

            I do not know where you got this stuff about our surplus sitting in a bank not drawing interest. It is just not true….The state earns millions of dollars on its accounts…It is a definite part of the revenue stream. There was a hesitancy to use modern techniques back in the days of Bob Calvert as State Comptroller…but all that ended with the election of Bob Bullock IN 1974. In fact, “Interest and Investment Income” is expected to produce more than $2.2 billion for the new budget just adopted. The State now uses all the cash management tools available and has for many years now. Your suggestion that it just leaves the money sitting around in interest free accounts is just one of those “fables” about how backward government is supposed to be.

          • John Johnson

            Just recently read a piece where Rainy Day Fund until just recently was not drawing interest. It also questioned why we were not using that money to service debt. Will attempt to find it.

          • WUSRPH

            The stories about the rainy day fund were about how it was not drawing all the interest and income that it could if more aggressive investment strategies were adopted…NOT that it was not drawing any. The Comptroller advocated and got permission for the Legislature to adopt those methods. HB 903. As to why we are not using the Rainy Day Fund to service debt. There was a proposal to do just that considered by the Legislature. HJR 8 by Otto. It passed the House and was reported from committee in the Senate on May 22 but did not come up for a vote in the Senate before the session ended. See the Legislature is not as backward as you believe.

            But I can just hear you now if there was a report that the State lost money that it invested….Your screams of “INCOMPETENCE” could be heard in China. Because it is “Taxpayers Money” the state uses a very strict “prudent man” rule for the kinds of investments it makes. See Chapter 404 of the Government Code for the strict rules used to control how the state invests its funds.

            P.S. Perry’s “economic development” investments in businesses, etc. were exempted from these rules…There was always an expectation that some of those investments would not work out….but the idea is that those that did would produce enough benefits to outweigh any loses.

            P.S.P.S. If you want to know which “banks” in which the state has funds, ask the Comptroller. He handles that. I think you will find that it is a pretty extensive list. The state started the practice of spreading money around back in the 1950s when the Texas was so broke during parts of the year that its warrants would have bounced because there was never enough in the treasury to cover them. It got the banks to honor its warrants (the state’s checks) by putting money into the banks…even then many of the warrants were discounted (i,e.–they gave you less than the face value when you cashed them). Those bad days led to the adoption of the sales tax in 1961 . It was a weird period. The state was growing rapidly…as was demand on it for services–but its fiscal structure (taxes and cash flow especially) was unable to provide the funds it needed. Some fear we are setting ourselves up for a similar situation in the future.

          • John Johnson

            You are right. The TT piece said Treasury notes at less than 1%. It did not mention what interest rate we were paying on our debt, or who was holding the notes.

          • Saul Alinsky used the mob’s system of organizing and you see “nothing wrong with it.”

            That was the point, the end results justify the means.

            It doesn’t matter if you lie cheat or steal as long as you win.

            Jonathan Gruber said the same thing about SCOTUScare.

            “Gruber would “rather have this law than not,” and therefore purposely lying about what the law actually is in order to get it passed is completely acceptable. regardless of the negative effects it has on the lives of Americans.”

            http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katiepavlich/2014/11/10/obamacare-architect-yeah-we-lied-to-the-stupid-american-people-n1916605

  • As TM’s staff knows I speak with logic and rationale and some posters here want that banned. Today’s food for thought.

    The democrat’s annual fund raiser is called the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, the republican’s is called the Lincoln Reagan Dinner.

    Jefferson and Jackson were slave owners, Lincoln freed the slaves and Reagan faced down communism.

    The left wants to ban the US flag because it is a symbol of racism.
    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/03/11/professors-us-flag-symbolizes-racism-should-not-be-displayed-on-campus.html

    • John Johnson

      Don’t expect direct comment from anyone but me. I find your post interesting and worthy of passing on. I will be looking for someone to call it hate filled and/or a lie. Sometimes they are hate filled and personal, but you already know that. Some of mine have been, too…and WUSRPH’s, and Pearle’, and Jed’s, and _____’s.

      • WUSRPH

        I do not think anyone, including me, objects when he occasionally uses logic and reason and even irony, as the latest one does, what was objectionable was his constant resort to insults, many of the most base nature. He’s cleaned that up in recent days….but there is more than enough justification to believe that he will slip back soon. I even wonder it he was warned about his behavior.

        Of course, there is the little problem of him making up so many items and claiming that they are something supported by Democrats, etc. I guess he believes that if you don’t have to be civil you do not have to be truthful either. He is neither.

        • John Johnson

          Don’t know. I was never warned. I just decided that my tone was too much for you guys and attempted to back off a bit. Sometimes, I slip.

        • You are so dumb it is pathetic…
          I have said consistently from day one if you respect me I will respect you, if you slander/attack/demean me I will do the same to you.
          What is hard to comprehend about that. Its why I chose the nickname JBB, not to hide behind but what it meant.
          I suppose it went over the average dem’s head.

      • So you understand I can use the same tactics dems use daily to intimidate anyone who needs re-education.

    • dave in texas

      There are quite a few Democratic Party organizations across the country revisiting the idea of using Jackson’s name in their fundraising dinners, and some, though not nearly enough, have already dropped his name. The first thing that comes to my mind when Jackson is brought up is the infamous Trail of Tears. Yes, Jefferson was a slave owner. So was George Washington. So were lots of the Founding Fathers. Jefferson also wrote the Declaration of Independence. Would you have that removed from the national consciousness because its author owned slaves? Then you’d need to remove the Bill of Rights from the Constitution, because George Mason, who insisted on its inclusion, was also a slave owner.

      If we’re going to bring up the foibles and faults of party icons, Reagan traded arms for hostages, i.e. negotiated with terrorists, and he cut and ran from Lebanon after terrorists blew up that Marine barracks. Lincoln thought at one time that repatriating all black people back to Africa was a good idea, and he suspended habeas corpus, one of the basic principles of law in this country.

      • exactly…..no one on the right is asking for anything to be taken down removed etc.
        Once again I was pointing out who the left is. I love it when they use Jackson, because it shows who the left is and how far they will go to win.

        I will never forget attending a conference and the discussion was about depositions. The two lawyers opened the discussion by saying, “it isn’t about who is right or wrong, it is about winning.”
        That pretty much sums it up. If you feel that way, and I firmly believe most liberals do, then your soul is lost.

        I’m sorry but there is right and wrong, and no man made laws can ever change that.

        • dave in texas

          See, this is why nobody takes you seriously. You just repeat the same tired, BS clichés over and over again. You didn’t address a single point I raised. All you did was throw a couple of non sequiturs out there. What in the hell do a couple of lawyers talking about winning and losing have to do with anything?

          A few idiots on the furthest fringes of the left have a problem with displaying the US flag. The overwhelming majority of liberals are patriotic Americans and most of them, myself included, think those folks are nuts. Some idiots on the furthest fringes of the right think it’s perfectly fine to murder doctors who perform abortions. That doesn’t mean I think that every conservative condones murder.

          Grow up.

          • WUSRPH

            For all his many faults–and he had many—Jackson was a more than strong supporter of the UNION that is the United States,….who fought for and defended the Union and who stood down South Carolina with their 1832 foolishness about nullification. He was also a strong supporter of the Separation of Church and State even going as far as to block a national day of prayer on the grounds that, if the government called for it, it violated the constitution. He was also a major supporter of Texas–both in its independence from Mexico and its statehood. We can condemn him when he was wrong—as he was on many occasions–but also remember him for the many times he was in the right.

            Another thing that makes Jackson notable is that he was the FIRST non-elite “common man” to become President. All his predecessors were members of the closest thing America had to an aristocracy. He came from the opposite end of the class structure and pulled his way to the top.

          • dave in texas

            Like all of us, Andrew Jackson had his good and bad traits. To be fair, he stood down South Carolina over nullification because the idea of nullification was a direct attack on the government which, at the time, he headed. And he was pretty decent about trying to enact reforms in a couple of areas. But he was a bloody-minded SOB, and the rampaging he did through Florida and the brutality with which he dealt with the Native American populations counteract a lot of that, in my mind. On balance, and this is just my opinion, of course, I think we’d be better off picking someone else to use as an example. I’d suggest FDR.

          • WUSRPH

            Personally, I would prefer if they called it the Jefferson-Johnson dinner …..LBJ, of course. He made many mistakes, but he will forever be remembered for the civil rights acts of 1964, 65 and 68…which gave muscle to Jefferson’s promise that all men are created equal…but FDR would be my second choice.

          • WUSRPH

            “No one on the right is asking for anything to be taken down”…Funny the governors of Mississippi and South Carolina sure seem to be “on the right” to most of us….

          • You simply cannot grasp a simple point.

          • Dave why the personal attack? Do you simply lack social skills, or just a turd that got ahold of mom’s computer.

          • dave in texas

            The only personal attack in this entire exchange is you calling me a turd. Unless of course, you’re one of those that condones the murder of doctors who perform abortions. If that’s the case, then I fully admit to the personal attack of calling you an idiot.

            See how this works? We refer to statements the other has made, instead of just spewing the daily talking point.

          • go back and reread your post turd.

          • José

            “I hate the sight of the American flag. Modern American patriotism is an absolute joke.”

            That’s not from any liberal. That was written by the right wing Charleston terrorist. The same guy who proudly displayed a photograph of himself defiantly burning the flag of the United States of America. The guy who was inspired by the Council of Conservative Citizens, a right wing group that supports extreme Republican candidates.

          • WUSRPH

            I am not sure it is proper to describe the Charleston shooter as being “right wing”. His apparent complete hate of the political system and his probable psychological withdrawal into a world of his own removes him from the normal political continuum of right to left. He was more a radical racist than a rightist since he probably hates non-racist conservatives as much as he hates anybody else who does not share his views.

          • Even the FBI says it wasn’t a terrorist attack but that wouldn’t fit Jose’s lie.

          • WUSRPH

            Boy was I surprised to learn that Strom Thurmond’s kid is a leftist…but, since “No one on the right is asking for anything to be taken down” he has got to be…..Surprised about all those other Republican politicians, too….I did not know that there were that many leftists in the party these days. Maybe us old Rockefeller Republicans can go back soon.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/24/us/south-carolina-nikki-haley-confederate-flag.html?_r=0

          • There are still many liberals in the republican party. Most are ashamed to admit they are democrats.

  • Blue Dogs

    Here’s the latest on Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman (R)’s new command taking over:
    http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/politics/houston/article/New-sheriff-names-all-male-command-post-6347787.php

  • John Johnson

    Oh, no! No woman? Not enough blacks or Hispanics? Does someone know something we aren’t being told? Are these white guys the most qualified? Do any have past indications that they are gender or ethnically prejudiced? What a crock.

  • WUSRPH

    Rep. Scott Turner says he WILL NOT seek re-election to the Texas House. Says looking forward to new adventures, etc. There has always been speculation that he really wants to run for the US Congress…He, in fact, did so when he lived in another state…but I doubt after the fiasco of his run for speaker and his less than sterling session that he is any position to be able to do so now.

    • Another Wilco Voter

      Which congressional district would he run in? Session or Sam Johnson?? There aren’t that many seats that come open. I was at a conference where Turner spoke right after he announced he was running against Speaker Straus. He is a good speaker, but has a one note song. He never articulated why he would be a better speaker than Straus other than he was not Straus. He’ll have to do better than that against a sitting congressman.

      • WUSRPH

        I would think that Sam Johnson is closer to retirement so he would run there, if he can…but, as I said, I doubt he can raise the money or the support after his last venture into big time politics blew up so badly.

      • WUSRPH

        QR now reports that Turner says he is not running for the Johnson seat…inferred he is not running for congress….but that was not totally clear.

    • Blue Dogs

      This means James White will be the only African American GOPer in the TX Legislature since Turner is leaving & Carter is already gone.

    • Rep Scott Turner has never announced he was running for congress. Simply another falsehood circulated for the gullible.

  • Slick

    “Burton . . . was the best of the Senate’s true freshmen.”
    Quite a compliment, considering the other true freshmen were Hall and Huffines. Following this logic, I’ll call Sirloin Stockade the greatest restaurant ever, compared to Golden Corral and Bonanza. Assuming all three can pass minimal health inspections, of course.

    • WUSRPH

      Faint praise.

  • WUSRPH

    Milton R. leaving the RR Commission…..Pushed or Jumped?

  • WUSRPH

    A slightly different take on the SCOTUS ruling on the ACA:

    A clear win for the GOP. The SCOTUS ruling got them off the hook of having to come up with some plan to save the insurance coverage of millions of people; the basic ACA is left in place relieving them from having to come up with an alternative; and they get to continue to rant and rave about Obama Care. They got their cake and got to eat it, too.

    • John Johnson

      I agree that the Repub’s got off lucky. There was nary an alternative plan in the wings. Middle America continues to get screwed.

    • Yes SCOTUS Chief Justice Robert’s opinion will rank among the most exemplary examples of how to rewrite a law from the bench. He had to work hard to save us from ourselves.

    • Unwound

      its a total gift

    • José

      Got that right. Sitting around and complaining is sure a lot easier than having to work and solve problems and things like that.
      I would dearly love for the press to keep after Rep. Paul Ryan to divulge that secret plan that they had to “fix” the ACA if the ruling had gone the other way. What reason is there to keep it secret, now that it’s not needed?

      • WUSRPH

        I am sure the president will be more than willing to consider any positive plan the GOP puts forth to improve the ACA. He has never claimed it is perfect.

        • John Johnson

          He would do no such thing. As the news reports…this is his legacy. My guess is that he’s not sharing.

          Furthermore, the GOP shows how discombobulated they really are when they bitch but offer no alternatives. My guess is that the conventional system has been so gutted that even turning back to it is too convoluted to get implemented in a timely manner. All I know is this…a hard working person should not have to pay for his insurance and also for someone else’s who chooses not to work. That is what is going on. It’s wrong.

          • vietvet3

            The rest of the civilized world considers basic health care a right or perhaps, an obligation to its citizens. Not related to employment. Health care is either a right or a privilege. One or t’uther.

          • John Johnson

            No, it is not mandated in our constitution so it is not a right. Those who pay for theirs while subsidizing others are gifting those that can’t pay. Are they getting a charitable deduction? Why not? What if everyone, and I mean everyone, paid 1% of income toward socialized health? That would be better than what we’ve got now.

          • vietvet3

            That sounds like Medicare for everyone… Once again, we completely agree…

  • Democrats demand this new flag replace the American flag….

  • WUSRPH

    Chief Justice Roberts’ decision to draft the opinion in the ACA case himself is in the best tradition of the SCOTUS. Like Warren in Brown v. The Board of Education, Roberts…just as he did in the earlier ACA case, decided that in such a controversial matter the court needed to speak as strongly as it could and with the leadership of the Chief Justice. He will be attacked by a few—as he was in 2012—but their meaningless braying will be forgotten when the history of the court and its courageous decisions is written. I only hope he shows the same leadership in the same-sex marriage case, no matter what the decision may be.

    • I fail to see your logic, how is this a republican problem?
      Obamacare/SCOTUScare passed on party lines, all dems in the US House. It was shoved down American’s throats by dems.
      Then President Obama used executive orders by fiat to make fixes.
      If SCOTUS strikes it down, we revert back to the free market we had before and Obama has to undo his unlawful acts.
      If he can’t then he should be subjected to impeachment. Pelosi and Reid also.
      Dems and the Obama admin has skirted the law and most likely even violated laws.
      Maybe if some dems were held accountable it might send a signal.

      Obamacare/SCOTUScare is now a stone around Hillary’s neck.

      • John Johnson

        Agree.

  • WUSRPH

    http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/preview/1605/desktop/?das
    This is the SCOTUS decision in he gay rights case.

    • you are now free to marry your fishing buddy but I can’t wear a Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt…..huh?

  • don76550

    Just to be perfectly clear Erica, left wing propagandists like you have absolutely no credibility with me nor do you with real Texans who vote. MQS does have credible ratings and Texas Monthly does not.