It's too early to say how much of Rick Perry's self-proclaimed agenda will get enacted this session, as much of it hinges on the budget reconciliation process as well as on legislation that hasn't been taken up by one chamber or the other.
Some of his top goals were resupplying the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Emerging Technology Fund, which he uses to
create jobs in Texasreward his cronies while making grandiose and unverifiable claims about job creation; changing the state business tax to exempt small companies with less than $1 million in revenue; and approving a voter identification law.
Lawmakers writing the two-year spending plan seemed willing to put money into Perry's job creation funds, but whether he gets the approximately $500 million combined he wanted for the accounts is far from certain. Lawmakers want more oversight of how the funds' money is spent. The House, in its version of the state budget, put restrictions on the enterprise fund money to try to force Perry to accept $555 million in federal stimulus money for unemployment benefits.
A House-Senate conference committee is working out a compromise budget plan, so several money items on Perry's wish list won't be known until that deal is finally struck.
An increase in the business tax exemption for companies from the current $300,000 to $1 million in revenue won approval in the House but has not made it through the Senate.
The Republican-backed voter identification bill, a highly charged political proposal that would require Texans to show additional ID at the ballot box beyond a voter registration card, won passage in the GOP-dominated Senate after grueling testimony and debate. Odds for the bill are slimmer in the House, where the partisan makeup is almost even.
There's another wild card in this, which the article doesn't discuss, and that's the possibility of a special session, which some people I've spoken to think is inevitable. Rep. Kuempel's health could be a factor in that as well - if he's at full strength, that bodes better for the chances of any legislation Perry would push in a special session. The advantage to calling a special session for Perry is that it gives him another 30 days to pander to his base, as well as the chance to pick up any agenda items that fall victim to the calendar. On the other hand, he can't raise money during a special session, and there's always the chance he'll still fail to get stuff passed, thus providing ammunition to KBH. Again, it's hard to say how this might play out, but the possibility is definitely there, and I'm a bit surprised the story didn't bring it up.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 18, 2009 to Show Business for Ugly People