I try to keep up with Gary Polland’s Texas Conservative Review’s take on Texas politics. The current issue lists the “Top 5 success and failures of the 82nd Legislature.” My comments follow dashes: Successes Voter ID: Ensures truth in voting.– Democrats should have cut a deal on this bill several sessions ago. Despite the heat that this issue generates, I don’t think it will have much effect on voting. There is scant evidence of fraud involving impersonification of voters. Balanced budget with money still in the Rainy Day Fund. — This is illusory. Any money that is in the Rainy Day fund is already obligated to be spent in 2013. The budget isn’t balanced either. It’s got all sorts of funny money, Example: The comptroller estimates that property values will rise. Anyone who has looked at their property appraisal statements knows this to be unlikely. Health Care Compact: Critical to utilizing block grants and reform Medicaid which costs us $48 billion per biennium and goes up, maybe by $14 billion in 2013! — If the Republicans win the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2012, the health care compact could be important. If they don’t, it won’t be. Strengthened property rights via an expanded eminent domain bill — Maybe so, maybe not. A lot of property rights folks think maybe property rights weren’t protected as much as the politicians claim they were. I’m not prepared to argue the point, but I have a hunch they’re right. TWIA Reform: The states last resort insurance program has been put on a more responsible course and reduces the potential costs to the state of Texas.– The TWIA bill is a disaster, in my opinion. If there is a hurricane, it is going to prove insufficient to protect people on the coast. Mr. Polland well knows that the TWIA “reform” wasn’t about protecting the coast. It was protecting the pocketbooks of people who live inland and don’t want to be assessed part of the cost of insuring the coast. Failures Property tax appraisal cap: Nothing happened, even though it’s been a priority in past sessions — Given the big Republican majority, it is a surprise that nothing was done. I think the reason is that it is hard to accomplish, especially concerning commercial property. It’s just a lot more complicated than it seems. Anti-Sanctuary cities: A bill that would write into state law existing federal provisions for protecting law enforcement officers who cooperate with ICE! — Nobody cared about sanctuary cities except Rick Perry. The sanctuary cities bill did nothing except give Republican members the chance to say they voted for an immigration bill. Public Pension Reform: Coming crisis, and nothing done to avert it — I agree with this observation. Local governments are extremely vulnerable, and certain legislators are always piling on more obligations. Water: With the Texas drought what is our long-term plan to deal with our coming water shortage? — Mr. Polland knows why we have no long-term plan to deal with our coming water shortage. It’s because Republicans cannot vote for anything that raises money to fund the state’s water plan. As long as this is the case, the state is never going to be able to address any of its long-term problems. Transportation: The state is growing, TXDOT has got its problems and we need to address this critical issue ASAP.– Same problem. The way to solve the transportation crisis is to raise the gasoline tax and issue bonds secured by the revenue from the user fee that we call a gasoline tax. This will raise the revenue needed for “free” roads. Can’t be done because Republicans will never raise taxes. Why does Mr. Polland even bother to write about problems like water and transportation? They are never going to be addressed because they require the will to address real problems and raise real revenue.
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