The major papers all have analyses of the finally-ended 79th Lege and how its performance will affect Governor Perry in his reelection battle. The consensus is more or less that Perry won a few and lost a few, and that nobody knows just yet how the failure to reform school finance will play out. For me, the best take comes from the Morning News:
Gov. Rick Perry cemented his relationship with social conservatives this legislative session, but he didn't make many new friends.
In his session's 140-day to-do list, Mr. Perry scored some major victories: revamping the workers' compensation system, requiring parental consent on abortions, securing new help for abused and neglected children.
But the issue at the top of the list – billions more dollars for education and a restructuring of the tax system that pays for schools – circled around the drain at midnight Saturday.
"I just think there's no way you can say, 'I got asbestos reform, but I didn't get school reforms, so it's a wash,' " said SMU political science professor Cal Jillson.
"I really think he was on the griddle this session to do something significant to improve the quality of education."
Dr. Jillson predicted Mr. Perry's victories would please the conservatives who have been his core supporters. But with approval ratings that have hovered in the mid-40s for more almost two years, Mr. Perry needed to score a victory to attract moderates.
"He's held his own, but he hasn't broadened his base," Dr. Jillson said. "He needed to deal definitively with education if he was going to hold off Hutchison. I think that door is still ajar."
I find the attempts to defend Perry's performance this session to be rather ludicrous:
Michael Quinn Sullivan, a spokesman for the low-tax, small-government Texas Public Policy Foundation think tank, agreed.
"Rick Perry has done what a governor is supposed to do: outline priorities, the broad objectives, and leave it to the Legislature to craft the policy," he said.
While school reforms didn't happen, Mr. Sullivan said Mr. Perry shouldn't be blamed.
Perry pollster Michael Baselice said the legislative failure on property tax cuts is not a negative for the governor.
"There's been two bites at the apple, but we're getting closer to getting this thing done," Baselice said.
Baselice said Perry has been the one to keep pushing the Legislature to solve school finance reform and cut property taxes. Neither of those is easily done, he said.
"The fact is, Perry is the one that kept both chambers together, and kept bringing them back to the table," Baselice said. "If that's not leadership, I don't know what is."
Let's be clear about something here: If a school finance reform bill had passed, Sullivan and Baselice would have been among the first in line to praise Rick Perry for making it happen. Well, if you get the credit for something when it succeeds, then you get the blame when that same thing fails. It's as simple as that.
98 - Media events
96 - Personal or group photo opportunities
85 - Ceremonies and/or speeches
55 - Meetings with visitors from outside Capitol
29 - Trips out of Austin
24 - Meetings with lieutenant governor and House speaker
15 - Formal meetings with legislators
10 - Briefings on executions
2 - Funerals
1 - Overnight stays in White House