Reporting from the Texas Legislature, with investigation and analysis of the state's economy, public policy, education, and more. 

Out of Step (And Falling Behind)

The takeaway from last week’s U.S. Supreme Court decisions and our leadership’s reactions to them show just how far Texas has slipped away from the mainstream. Same-sex marriage? Republicans are against it. Health care for everyone? Against it. Discrimination in housing projects? We’re on the wrong side of that too.

The Limits of Scorecards

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.

BULL OF THE BRAZOS: Representative Charlie Geren

Charlie Geren is a thoroughbred politician, and like some of the most famous horses in history, he’s always at the center of the action, even if he doesn’t come in first. That’s fitting for the Bull of the Brazos, an award given to the lawmaker each session who blurs the distinction between saint and sinner the most. The honor is named for the late senator William T.


The term “furniture” is a designation for lawmakers whose level of participation in the legislative process was indistinguishable from that of their desks and chairs.

Representative Dawnna Dukes
Democrat - Austin

Senator Bob Hall
Republican - Edgewood

Representative Scott Turner
Republican - Rockwall

Senator Carlos Uresti
Democrat - San Antonio

Honorable Mentions

Senator Brandon Creighton
Republican - Conroe

Creighton had one of the few successes concerning property taxes, passing a “truth in taxation” bill that included a provision requiring local governments to justify the necessity of tax increases.


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