Setting aside the Select Committee on Federal Pork, the tax-and-spending committee chairmanships granted by Speaker Joe Straus offer little comfort for taxpayers, but there are some bright spots among the appointments.
First, it’s good to see that State Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) was kept on as chairman of Public Education. He received our Texas Taxpayer Hero Award last Session, and has proven to be a steady hand at dealing with the contentious (and expensive) issues surrounding education. Another Taxpayer Hero Award recipient to hold a chairmanship is State Rep. John Smithee (R-Amarillo), who will be leading the important Insurance Committee.
Heading up the important Public Health Committee is State Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham).
Other taxpayer friends granted significant chairmanships include State Rep. Byron Cook of Corsicana who will lead Environmental Regulation. State Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christ), who the Empower Texans PAC actively supported in his ’08 election efforts, will lead Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence.
On the other hand, the committees dealing most directly with issues facing taxpayers leave a lot to be desired.
Straus appointed State Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) to helm Appropriations. Pitts previously ran the committee — overseeing one of the largest expansions of government spending in recent history. He lost the chairmanship shortly after.
The Ways and Means Committee will be run by State Rep. Rene Oliveria (D-Brownsville), who has shown little interest in pursuing tax relief, property or otherwise. Meanwhile, Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman will chair County Affairs.