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Williams, Perry, and the Budget

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This morning I wrote about the prospects for a budget deal, the topic du jour that is uppermost in everyone’s mind. The post contained, among other comments, this line: “House Democrats complained that Senate budget chief Tommy Williams had ‘misled’ them.” That is what I was told by what I believed to be reliable sources; the problem is, now I don’t believe it was true–or that Williams had sandbagged a deal. A Williams staffer asked me to correct another statement in the article, which was that Willams and Perry are close political allies. While there may have been a time when that was true, it is not true today. For example, a rider in the appropriations bill read as follows:

“Of the funds appropriated elsewhere in this Act to the Health and Human Services Commission in Goal B [never mind the jargon], no amount may be spent to modify Medicaid eligibility unless the commission develops a plan to create more efficient health care coverage options for all existing and newly eligible populations, and the commission receives prior written approval from the Legislative Budget Board before implementing the plan.”

Perry wanted the bold-face language removed from the rider. Williams stood firm in resisting. He was determined that the Legislature should write the checks. This is as it should be; the Legislature holds the purse strings.

Earlier tonight, Williams wrote this on his Twitter account: “Close to budget deal. Will know in the morning. Waiting on our House colleagues.” We shall see.

As for the Democrats, I hate to say this, but they have lost so many times that they have forgotten how to win. The latest example is the battle over restoring the education cuts. After a hard day of negotiations, Speaker Straus put an offer on the table: $3.5 billion in additional public education spending. The deal, Straus told the Democrats, will be “dead in the morning, ” as reported by Mike Hailey, if they haven’t accepted it and promised to support funding for the water plan. Oblivious to their own infirmities as the minority party, Democrats griped that the Republicans were moving the goal posts. This was truly stupid. As I have written earlier on this topic, Straus has bent over backward to give the D’s what they wanted, jeopardizing his standing with conservative Republicans in the process. This is the textbook case of why the Democrats don’t win: they think they’re entitled, because they represent all that is true and good and right in politics. Until that attitude changes, they’ll never win.

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