If you read the news about the current session of the Texas Legislature, much of it is focused on the newly discovered Republican “centrists”. In reality, they aren’t centrist at all, but with the redefinition of “conservative” over the past few years, ignoring the traditional definition and moving it so far right it has almost left the building, “centrist” will have to do for now. If you are on any of the mailing lists from the far right wing of the Republican Party, you get emails daily about how “bad” the current session is for “conservatives”.
I received such an email today from the Young Conservatives of Texas. This group has been around for a long time and used to provide a great service to conservative voters with their “scorecards”. These “scorecards” are used to show how legislators voted on conservative issues. The past few years has seen them “jumping the shark” in their choice of issues and today’s email is a prime example of that. For whatever reason, they decided to put out an early “budget scorecard” bemoaning the “total failure” for conservatives in the House on the appropriations bill. This scorecard is so bizarre that I thought I’d share it with you so that you can understand better why the far right is losing their influence. Click here to read the entire “scorecard”.
83RD SESSION HOUSE BUDGET SCORECARD
The most important bill passed each session is the appropriations budget. This bill determines how much money the state will spend the following biennium and where the money will be spent. Each session legislators dedicate at least one day to determine the budget and there are almost always hundreds of amendments offered to move money around.
This Session the House budget process was a complete and total failure for conservatives. There were few victories on good amendments and numerous failures on bad amendments. Below we have chosen 5 important votes to show you how your legislator performed on budget day.
YCT will use at least one of these votes in our end of session legislative ratings.
Amendment 2 (Record Vote #145)
Limits transparency in higher education through preventing the University of Texas Board of Regents from spending appropriated funds to conduct any investigations into executive management in any of the system’s institutions.
Amendment 12 (Record Vote #150)
This amendment requires the comptroller to “include in the tax policy e-newsletter notification of the right of a mother to breastfeed her baby in any location in which she and the baby are authorized to be.”
Amendment 51 (Record Vote #161)
After the Republican House Caucus voted to hold the line against medicaid expansion, an amendment on the budget to do just that easily passed with 86 votes.
Amendment 95 (Record Vote #169)
This amendment prohibits the use of appropriated dollars to go towards school choice, potentially ending the topic’s discussion this Session.
Amendment 118 (Record Vote #174)
This amendment would have restored some of the funding to volunteer fire departments by reducing the appropriations that go towards bingo compliance watchers. This vote was just one of several that demonstrated a lack of knowledge and ability to both prioritize and determine the proper role of government.
The idea that a once proud conservative organization would pick these five votes as bellwether votes to judge whether or not conservatives are having a good session is ludicrous. Under the leadership of Speaker Joe Straus, the 83rd House is tackling tough issues head on – water needs, transportation, and education to name just a few. But what does the YCT focus on? A notice in the Comptroller’s report about breastfeeding? Are you kidding me?
The representatives that they champion with scores of “100” have had virtually no impact on the session, while those that are driving the agenda and addressing serious issues are given scores of zero to 40. BTW, to read the ratings, you have to reverse most of the votes. For instance, my rep, John Davis, voted “NO” on the school choice amendment (meaning he wanted students to have choice) but the scorecard has him voting “YES” because the YCT happens to agree with him on this issue. Click here to look up all of the Record Votes mentioned above.
Kudos to Speaker Straus and the chairmen he picked for ignoring this nonsense. Representatives should always vote the best interests of their districts – that is the definition of good representation. Thankfully, most of the Republicans are doing just that, which is why this session is focused on serious issues and not rhetoric.
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