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Fifteen Republican state representatives dismissed fiscally conservative principles, instead opting for a more “balanced” (read “big-government”) approach to public policy including increased regulation, dismissal of property rights, and a disregard of commonsense fiscal responsibility.

If you’re a conservative and the Texas Legislature’s 82nd session left you with an empty sense of lost opportunity and frustration, there’s a good chance the legislators below had something to do with it. While this collection of representatives isn’t the absolute nadir of fiscal irresponsibility, they join their delinquent colleagues by also failing the Fiscal Responsibility Index with scores that, if they were playing high-school football, would certainly have them riding the bench.

Representatives scoring a dismal “D” include:

    • Rep. Lyle Larson, R – San Antonio (Freshman)
    • Rep. Wayne Smith*, R – Baytown
    • Rep. Beverly Woolley, R – Houston
    • Rep. Lance Gooden, R – Athens
    • Rep. Will Hartnett, R – Dallas
    • Rep. Jim Keffer*, R – Eastland
    • Rep. Rob Eissler*, R – The Woodlands
    • Rep. Byron Cook*, R – Corsicana
    • Rep. Lanham Lyne, R – Wichita Falls (Freshman)
    • Rep. Jim Pitts*, R – Waxahachie
    • Rep. Fred Brown, R – Bryan
    • Rep. Rick Hardcastle*, R – Vernon
    • Rep. Diane Patrick, R – Arlington
    • Rep. Larry Gonzales, R – Round Rock (Freshman)
    • Rep. Chuck Hopson*, R – Jacksonville

* = Chairman of a House Committee

These representatives were inconsistent in their support of commonsense, fiscally conservative principles.

Many were happy to give vehement lip-service to limiting government and protecting the taxpayer while on the campaign trail, only to join the status-quo, grow-government crowd once they made it back to Austin.

What’s disturbing is that of the 18 House Republicans who failed the Fiscal Responsibility Index with a “D” or lower, 9 of them were committee chairmen appointed by the Speaker. Put another way, half of the House republicans who failed the Index were in positions of leadership. This shouldn’t be all that surprising considering that overall Speaker Straus’ appointees as chairmen averaged a failing 63.3% on the Fiscal Responsibility Index.

As we’ve mentioned before, chairmanship and leadership matter. Committee chairmen have a great deal of influence over what bills are heard and when (if at all). Whether conservative initiatives are actually given the opportunity to be considered on the House floor (or even held for a vote in committee) is up to the committee chairmen.

For those freshmen on this list of failures who rode the “tea party wave” into office, conservatives should feel more bitterly a special sting. They failed to provide the leadership voters expected. Conservative voters are going to have to reconsider if this is the type of future leadership they wish to see in the Texas House.

The same can be said of the failing establishment. Voters will consider whether they would like a “Republican” status-quo to stick around, or work to promote a true conservative majority in the Texas House.

You can find out how your legislators performed on the Fiscal Responsibility Index HERE

Andrew Kerr is the Executive Director of Empower Texans / Texans for Fiscal Responsibility

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