This was the big news that emerged from his appearance on KXAN’s Sunday morning political show, “Session ’11.” Beyond politics, however, the significance of Dewhurst’s appearance was that he came down on the side of producing a Senate budget that addresses the state’s needs: “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on public ed programs, higher ed, health care, Medicaid, public safety, transportation, things people expect us to perform. You can’t just slash certain programs. In slashing Medicaid spending, you reduce reimbursement rates for providers.” And he went on to explain that nursing homes would have to close if the House’s 34% cut in Medicaid funding became law. An interesting exchange ensued when the host asked Dewhurst whether he needed the governor’s support on using the Rainy Day Fund. Dewhurst said, “The governor has a little more influence on House members.” Translation: “The Senate doesn’t really care what the governor thinks.” It appears that Dewhurst has decided to be the grownup, to take charge of the budget and prevent a disaster. Why has Dewhurst perhaps cooled on the idea of running for the Senate? I can think of several reasons. One is that he would have to wait as much as twelve years — two terms — to attain a position of influence. That’s a long time for someone who is in his mid-sixties. Another is that Dewhurst sees himself as an executive, not as a somebody who aspires to engage in debate and go to committee meetings. Yet another possible reason is that federal financial disclosure laws are pretty tough. Dewhurst would have to reveal a lot more information about his personal wealth than he has had to do in Texas. In any event, Dewhurst has laid down his marker for 2014. It is intriguing that he has done so at a time when Perry has been quoted by friends as saying that he may run again. The truth is, Dewhurst has always wanted to be governor, and he has a couple of shots at it–one, that Perry leaves to take a spot on the national GOP ticket; the other, that he accepts a cabinet position in a Republican administration. (These scenarios require that the Republicans win the presidency in 2012, which is by no means a foregone conclusion.) The point is, Dewhurst has apparently decided to fix the deficit. Not the fiscal deficit. The leadership deficit. It’s about time somebody did.
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