With a hefty number of new faces added to the ranks of Texas’ legislative body politic this session in the wake of what could be described as a “conservative landslide” in November 2010, many folks want to know, “How did the freshmen do?”

This legislative session featured the introduction of 35 fresh, new faces to the Texas House (30 Republicans, 5 Democrats). Making up slightly more than 23% of the House, these first-timers were elected on the heels of an electoral season characterized by a simmering dissatisfaction with the political status-quo.

Many ran under the banner of limited government, less spending, and no new taxes. A majority of those followed through on their campaign promises, some did not.

So, how did they do?

On average, the first-time legislators performed well on the Fiscal Responsibility Index. Of the 35 newbies, 11 earned a rating in the “A” range, 8 in the “B” range, 6 in the “C”, 4 in the “D”, and 6 failed with an “F”.

According the the Index, Freshmen legislators scored a 76% overall – significantly outperforming House veterans (59.2%) and the overall House (63.2%).

Composing a significant portion of their caucus, the 30 Republican freshmen legislators garnered an 84.2% seemingly helping to anchor their caucus on fiscal issues as GOP veterans and the caucus as a whole scored 81.7 and 82.5% respectively.

Even while falling far short of a passing grade, freshmen Democrat legislators on average also scored better on the Index than their veteran peers and caucus as a whole. The 5 freshmen D’s came away with a 26.5% compared to a 23.5% from their veterans and a 23.8% from the caucus.

Many freshmen distinguished themselves as “Taxpayer Champions”, while several others were “Taxpayer Advocates”.

While there certainly were first year legislators who ably championed the causes of limited government and fiscal responsibility, there were others whose performances were less than underwhelming in advocacy for the taxpayer. Five GOP freshmen fell below the “C” range on the Index, with one posting a failing grade.

Looking over the cumulative results posted by the House’s newest legislators (on both sides of the isle) indicates a trend that is widely understood yet seldom discussed… As public servants gain “seniority” and become further entrenched within the system, they become increasingly susceptible to growing government and losing sight of the taxpayers they are sent to represent.

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

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