August 20, 2005
The special sessions were a success for someone

We have a new definition of "chutzpah": Rick Perry blaming lobbyists for anything.

Gov. Rick Perry on Friday said the Legislature failed to pass school finance reform and property tax cuts in two special sessions because it was too influenced by business lobbyists and lacked the will to act.

"Today I share the tremendous disappointment of millions of taxpayers, teachers, parents over the Legislature's failure to act on property tax relief and education reform," Perry said.

He's apparently gone to the Tom Craddick School of Blame Dispersal. Fortunately, he did get a consolation prize to help ease the pain of his disappointment.

This summer's two special sessions apparently did not crimp Perry's political style. His re-election campaign raised $2.5 million since June 21 while the Legislature was in session, including $100,000 each from Houston Toyota wholesaler Thomas Friedkin and Houston home builder Bob Perry, according to a report Perry filed Friday with the Texas Ethics Commission. A ban on fundraising during regular legislative sessions does not apply to special sessions.

'Nuff said.

This is almost too funny:

Perry blamed businesses that now can legally avoid paying the corporate franchise tax with opposing his plans to close two loopholes.

"The fact of the matter is we're trying to make a system that is fair, a system that treats everyone as fairly as we can," said Perry.

But Perry opposed plans to tax business payroll, saying that might hurt job creation. His opposition complicated lawmakers' efforts to broaden the business tax to service professionals such as doctors, lawyers and architects.

[Lt. Gov. David] Dewhurst said that "rich, greedy lobbyists" for the petrochemical and oil and gas industries brought tax reform to a standstill in the House. When pressed by reporters, he named Bill Messer and Rob Looney.

I'll spare you the through-the-looking-glass cliches. What's really pathetic about all this is that broadened-but-reduced business and sales taxes were not only the first things to get killed (with Perry leading the way), but they've actually got a fair amount of support from the Republican base. Look at items #4 and 5 on the Texas Conservative Review. I don't endorse most of what they stand for, but it seems to me there was pretty broad agreement on these two points. Someone needs to ask Governor Perry how it is they still failed despite that. (Here's a hint, in case you don't already know the answer.)

Oh, well. On the plus side, as Eye on Williamson and Loren Steffy remind us, SpecialSessionPalooza wasn't an abject failure for everyone - SBC made out pretty nicely with the telecom bill. I think Steffy's exactly right in that we won't see lower prices for cable TV - we'll just get more product bundles at premium rates. There's still no real incentive for anyone to do business any differently.

Of course, the telecom bill still isn't law just yet. As Save Muni Wireless notes, there's an effort to urge Governor Perry to veto it. I'd say there's about a zero percent chance of that happening, but you can still register your opinion on the subject if you wish.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 20, 2005 to That's our Lege | TrackBack

... about a zero percent chance [of a gubernatorial veto of telecom] ...

I won't argue the numbers, but I will point out there are some weird dynamics at play here. It just looks crappy for the legislature to fail so completely on school finance, but still find the time to do this huge wet-kiss-of-a-bill for SBC. It only takes 30 seconds to call (all they ask is your name and your position), so even if it's futile you won't be out much.

Maybe if there are enough calls, Gov. Perry may stand by his original promise that school finance comes first.

Posted by: Chip on August 20, 2005 4:49 PM

All true, and I certainly encourage people to make the call. Pointing out that school finance did not come first is right on.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on August 20, 2005 5:05 PM