Tuesday is the day that state legislators are sworn in, marking the start of the 79th biennial 180-day session. Many of the problems of 2003 will be back in 2005 - budget shortfall, a tax structure in dire need of overhaul and the broken school finance system that depends on it, social services in desperate need - though this time there's a little more consensus that spending cuts alone are not a viable solution (see "CHIP funding, restoration of").
The 78th Lege, the first one with Republicans in charge of everything, finished as one of the most divisive and partisan sessions ever, but it didn't start that way, as the DeLay-driven reredistricting push didn't gain steam until April. With the Opiela and Heflin challenges looming large on the January agenda, and the specter of DeLay-necessitated alterations to campaign finance laws and the means of investigating their violations waiting for later, this session starts out with a divisive air, but it doesn't have to end that way. It's entirely up to the Republicans, since they control everything, whether partisan interests like these take precedence over actual governing or not. The Democrats can carp and wail from the back microphones, but it's Craddick, Dewhurst, and Perry that will steer the course. There's plenty of grist for the ideological mills in the issues that actually require everyone's attention. Any distractions from those issues along the way will be the result of choices made by those three.Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 09, 2005 to That's our Lege | TrackBack