Mon April 7, 2014 11:33 am By Paul Burka

UPDATE: This post has been edited to correct errors related to the candidates' position on pre-K and public education. I regret the error.

Why does pre-K matter? The answer is that professional educators wouldn’t be so gung-ho about pre-kindergarten instruction unless they saw the huge value – both in terms of knowledge such as vocabulary development and non-cognitive skills such as character development – in getting kids ready for kindergarten, which is the ultimate objective.

Read More
Fri April 4, 2014 1:59 pm By Paul Burka

The ongoing lawsuit regarding the state's public school system is expected to come to a head in May, when Travis County district judge John Dietz could issue his ruling. The question is whether Texas's funding of public schools is inadequate, and, therefore, violates the Texas constitution's imprimatur in Article VII that a "general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools."

Read More
Thu April 3, 2014 4:29 pm By Paul Burka

The resignation of two of David Dewhurst's key staffers should be the final nail in the coffin for the incumbent lieutenant governor. The reality is that Dewhurst has been politically dead since the night of the Wendy Davis filibuster, and he has no hope to retain his office. Unless something very strange happens, Dan Patrick is a lock to be the state's next lieutenant governor.

Read More
Wed April 2, 2014 11:01 pm By Paul Burka

The idea of high-speed rail in Texas has been around at least since the nineties, and it has reared its head again. I am skeptical that rail could work in this state. If you thought that the Trans-Texas Corridor was controversial, wait until the French or the Germans start running trains through bucolic Central Texas at 220 miles per hour. It is a multi-billion dollar project, and the eminent domain issues will be extremely difficult for landowners.

Read More
Wed April 2, 2014 2:11 pm By Erica Grieder

Last month I had a chance to sit down with journalist Alexis Garcia of Reason, a libertarian magazine and website, to talk about Texas. The interview was published last week, and you can watch it at the link. I'll revisit two points from the interview here. 

First, an elaboration on what I mean by "tacitly libertarian." People who describe themselves as libertarian or as part of the liberty movement are concerned with liberty as a first principle. Insofar as government encroaches on liberty, they generally align with fiscal conservatives, albeit not necessarily for the same reasons. Drug policy is one of the issues where the two perspectives result in support for similar policies, albeit for different reasons. Rick Perry, for example, has emerged as a critic of the War on Drugs; later today he's making an appearance in Lubbock, to accept a "Governor of the Year" award from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. When he talks about the issue, he's generally emphasized controlling costs and reducing recidivism. That's a fiscally conservative mindset. Libertarians may approach the issue differently--by arguing, for example, that the criminalization of marijuana is government overreach analogous to prohibition--but the result is that they'll typically support fiscally conservative reforms in this area. 

Read More