Let’s just put all the cards on the table: Governor Perry’s new Texas Budget Compact represents bold leadership and a commitment to solutions. The “leadership” in the Texas Legislature has expressed extreme reluctance to back (and therefore enact) the tenets of the compact, essentially saying “well, that’s nice of the governor, but down here in the chamber we do things differently.”
The governor has not asked anyone to sign a pledge or made any sign that violating the separation of powers is part of his intent. The tenets of the compact are straightforward, and Governor Perry told the Texas Tribune, “People are either going to be for them or not.” The Texas Budget Compact is not radical, nor does it violate any of the principles our legislative leaders claim to espouse. Yet, the response, so eloquently phrased as “nice, but the Legislature needs to assert itself from time to time,” is curious. If the Legislature won’t assert itself on things like truth in budgeting, opposing new taxes, and cutting unnecessary and duplicative government agencies and programs, then what exactly will they assert themselves on?
We hear a lot of promises during campaign season, but what we’re hearing from the so-called leadership of the Texas House of Representatives in particular is that they will make no promises. Speaker Straus doesn’t sign pledges – though he certainly takes a different stance when it comes to pledge cards to keep him in power. He’s telling voters, he will commit to nothing, either because he disagrees with the Texas Budget Compact or he has no intention of letting Governor Perry set a tone and agenda for the state without his go-ahead.
Despite the leadership’s non-committal stance, candidates for seats in both legislative chambers are already stepping forward to associate themselves with Governor Perry’s initiative. More will come on board as the days go on and I urge you to ask candidates where they stand – are they for putting an end to accounting gimmicks, making government more efficient with the resources we have available now, and protecting the Rainy Day Fund? Are they willing to discuss these things with their colleagues in Austin, and come up with a responsible plan that addresses the challenges our state is facing?
The Texas Budget Compact is the right thing for Texas, right now. Governor Perry came back to Texas, rolled up his sleeves, and got to work knowing we have a legislative session coming in less than ten months. Meanwhile, the “assertive” legislative branch spends more time telling us why they won’t pledge to protect Texas’ fiscal health than doing anything pro-active – there’s no peep of a budget plan coming from House leadership.