We’ve begun putting together the Fiscal Responsibility Index for this 81st Session. Obviously four weeks are left and a lot of legislation remains unheard, but the picture we’re seeing isn’t a good one. (Updated May 11.)

Our goal is to create an objective measure of legislators actions on public policy — not a subjective statement of who we might like or dislike personally.

Our Index measures the votes lawmakers take, making sure they are “clean” votes on a specific issue. (For that reason, we don’t rate the final budget vote — simply too many moving parts — but we will use amendments on the budget, when votes are taken.)

In addition to the votes, we add extra “positive” weight for the authors/co-authors of priority legislation. We also add “negative” weight for the authors/co-authors of legislation we have strongly opposed.

Much like a school report card in Texas, an “A” is a 90-100, a “B” is an 80 to 89.9; a “C” is 70-70.9.

With all that said, the draft overall House average is a 51.7! The Republican’s in the House have a “draft” average is a 74.2 and the Democratic “draft” average is a 28.8.

By way of comparison, the 2007 average for the House was a 53.4. The House Republican average was a 75 and the Democratic average a 31.74.

In the Senate, the current draft average is a 32.6! The Senate’s Republicans have a draft average of 42.6 and the Democrats have an average of 16.5.

In the ’07 Session, the Senate average was a 38.8. Republicans ended the Session with an average score of 48.5 while the Democrats had a 21.4.

Because we don’t want to improperly impugn (or praise!) anyone with what is still a draft Index, we’re not releasing the individual scores.

What is abundantly clear this Session is the overwhelming lack of record votes on sound legislation. We are hoping the House and Senate leadership will move to the floor items like SB 700, HJR 38, HB 1575, HB 1307,HJR 16 or HJR 30, HB 994, and others.

So on what is included in this DRAFT score?

HOUSE
The votes used on this draft scorecard include items we supported:
>> HB1038 (property tax appraisal reform) RV81
>> Amendment 213 to CSSB1 (State Budget, ordering LBB to study spending limits) RV185
>> HB2291 (Brings greater transparency to the setting of property tax rates) RV 653
>> SB1071 (providing transparency for state pension funds) RV570

And items we opposed:
>> HB873 (Subsidies for entertainment industry)RV64
>> HB3226 (provides $4,000 in vouchers for housing, without oversight, to recent parolees)RV540
>> hb1462 (Allowing state employees to be paid by the taxpayers while performing volunteer service) RV329
>> HB681 (Requiring sellers of fresh fish to post signs about mercury.) RV206
>> HB482 (Creating grant program through TDA giving small retailers in low-income neighborhoods to purchase refrigerators.) RV216
>> HJR112 (creating new taxing jurisdictions for existing services that should be funded through general revenues) RV 651
>> HB130 (Creating a new pre-K program) RV 656

SENATE
Supported:
>> SB1071 (providing transparency for state pension funds)

Opposed:
>> HB873 (Subsidies for entertainment industry)
>> SB1569 (Change UI to appease Feds and get short-term stimulus)
>> SB855 (Transportation taxes and fees)
>> SB 841 (Expand CHIP to 300% of poverty) RV
>> SB 188 (Neddle exchange vote)

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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