On Friday, State Rep. Tim Kleinschmidt (R–Lexington) announced his intention to again vote for Rep. Joe Straus as House Speaker this upcoming session, reiterating the tired and debunked rhetoric that the House had a truly conservative session under his watch in 2011.
In an announcement via his Facebook page on Friday afternoon (when few, if any, of his followers would see it), Kleinschmidt told his fans “I just don’t know how much more conservative the Texas House could be…”
Rep. Kleinschmidt’s comments fit into a larger problem of low expectations on the right—one that consistently leaves conservatives asking, “Is this all we get?”
Here’s a list of a few conservative policies that DID NOT pass the Texas House under Speaker Straus’ leadership (with a supermajority of Republicans at his disposal):
- Capping increases in state spending to no more than the growth of population plus inflation
- Requiring a two-thirds majority of both chambers in order to increase taxes
- Eliminating the franchise tax
- Eliminating the use of accounting gimmicks to balance the budget
- Ending the Fund 006 gas tax diversions
- Defunding all corporate welfare projects (including the Texas Enterprise Fund, Texas Emerging Technology Fund, Major Events Trust Fund, etc.)
- Requiring the state budget to list line-items expenditures for all state agencies and their purpose
- Zero-based budgeting
It’s too bad Mr. Kleinschmidt failed to mention the billions in payments the Legislature put off until this session to make the budget balance.
The Eminent Domain bill was also a snappy campaign talking point, but it left out several protections—like a “necessary takings clause”—which substantially weakened the bill. (Note: Rep. Kleinschmidt voted against requiring a government entity to prove taking your land was necessary before being allowed to do so.)
The sonogram bill was certainly a win for social conservatives, but like most noteworthy pieces of legislation passed during the 82nd Session, it would have passed regardless who held the gavel on top of the speaker’s dais.
The same goes for the Voter ID bill, and any “NRA legislation” that passed. The speaker and his team supported pro-gun legislation in Texas! How bold of them.
The guys at AgendaWise have put together an excellent explanation of why the 82nd Session was so lackluster, in main part to the failure of the Texas House to pass meaningful conservative reforms while they had the chance.
For those reforms to take place, we must have better leadership in the House—with much higher expectations. We won’t get it with Republicans like Tim Kleinschmidt standing in the way.