Across the nation, Republican-held states are passing conservative legislation and Democrat-held states are pushing liberal agendas. At a time when citizens are looking for bold colors, Texas Republicans delivered a legislative session of pale pastels. Republican “red” and Democrat “blue” merged into a purple coalition which undermined the policy priorities of conservatives.
While politicians in New York and Virginia applaud horrific pro-abortion policies, Alabama and Georgia are challenging Roe v Wade. California is busily imposing their own version of the “Green New Deal,” while Nebraska has allocated 6 percent of its total state budget to property tax relief.
In the Lone Star State, activists like Julie McCarty of the NE Tarrant Tea Party have said Republican politicians misspent the 140-day legislative session stifling conservative victories—denying even the possibility in some cases—while letting Democrats set the governing narrative.
“You were supposed to fight,” McCarty recently told Texas Scorecard was the message she would have for Republican lawmakers.
For example, gun rights advocates are shocked that legislation deemed the top priority of the Republican Party of Texas was killed in the House … and never even filed in the Senate.
Texas Right to Life notes that no legislation saving the life of an unborn child passed this legislative session. Not one bill.
House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R–Lake Jackson) is unapologetic. He told reporters on Monday that groups like Texas Right to Life who have voiced criticism “aren’t worth responding to.”
“If we passed every pro-life bill filed in the history of the state, they would say we had not done enough,” said Bonnen. “You will never please or appease those folks, and I’m sure as hell not going to waste my time trying.”
Members of the House and Senate did pass a constitutional amendment banning an income tax, but perhaps the most significant fiscal reform—a stronger spending limit to prevent bloated budgets—died in the House without a hearing. Again.
Election integrity legislation was stymied in the Texas House, as was legislation to ban taxpayer-funded lobbying.
Worried about upsetting Democrats, not a single Republican even filed legislation to end the practice of governmental agencies’ collection of union dues. The fact that 90 percent of union money goes to Democrats makes it even more perplexing Republicans wouldn’t at least act out of their own self-interest ahead of the 2020 election season.
While it’s nice Republicans chose to “save Chick-fil-A” (the massively successful Georgia-based fast food chain denied retail space in San Antonio’s small airport) with a narrowly tailored measure, they did nothing to address the punitive patchwork of socialist policies attacking small businesses arising around the state. Across the state, cities are imposing leftist policies on businesses, including mandates interfering with the relationship between employers and employees. Again, the Texas House is to blame.
Yes, lawmakers did enact some reforms to the property tax system—but they unnecessarily opted for the protections only to apply to the biggest cities while creating complex loopholes that will be nearly impossible for citizens to challenge. And, yes, the state budget includes $5 billion in property tax relief—that’s a real number that will be seen.
However, it is done in the context of a state budget that grows government at an unsustainable level, even when deducting the “costs” of property tax relief and the charges for Hurricane Harvey recovery. The state budget blows past the “population growth and inflation” limit conservatives have demanded government stay below since the days Ronald Reagan was governor of California.
Not a single priority of the Republican Party of Texas was achieved, despite the party having commanding majorities in both chambers. Not. A. One. The party fathers will claim “progress” was made. But after 20 years at the helm of state government, Republicans should expect more than “progress.”
Legislators are heading home, preparing to wow the citizenry with tales of their backroom deals and seats at the table. Even the once viable “Texas Freedom Caucus” became little more than a house pet for the Austin cronies, with actions and rhetoric indistinguishable in form and substance from the most liberal members of the GOP caucus.
As conservative activist Ruth York recently posted on social media, “Sometimes it’s better to stand on principle than have a seat at the table.”
Over the last 140 days, Republicans refused to stand up for conservatives, so it is hard to imagine many conservatives bothering to stand up for them in 2020.