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Look out, there’s a new maverick in town

And the winner of the 2003 John McCain Maverick Award, complete with a year’s supply of fawning press coverage, is (drum roll, please)…David Dewhurst!

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst may not know everything about the etiquette of having breakfast with the high and the mighty, but he thinks he knows how to count votes in the Texas Senate.

Last week, Dewhurst failed to show up for his weekly breakfast meeting with fellow Republicans Gov. Rick Perry, Speaker Tom Craddick and Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn.

A spokesman said Dewhurst was busy making phone calls to senators and had sent word that he would be late. But harmless oversight or not, the timing — from a political standpoint — could have been better.

A day earlier, Dewhurst’s independent streak — and that of the Senate — surfaced with the rookie lieutenant governor’s attempt to steer the state budgetary process.

With Perry still preaching cut, cut, cut and Craddick bogged down for the second straight week in House debate over proposed civil justice changes, Dewhurst announced that he and most senators, Democrats and Republicans, were ready to dip into nearly $6 billion in nontax revenues to soften looming cuts in state programs and services.

They include tapping into the state’s $1 billion savings account, known as the rainy day fund, and using certain accounting changes, which Perry had spoken strongly against only the day before.

Heck, even Molly Ivins has some nice things to say about Dewhurst, a sign that he’s either a rising star or about to become forever marginalized by the powers that be.

All snarkiness aside, it is refreshing to see someone in our monolithically Republican state government think outside the box, even a little bit. I don’t condone all of the things Dewhurst is trying to do to cover the revenue shortfall, but I give him credit for recognizing that there’s precious little fat to be cut, and cutting muscle and bone does more harm than good. If we do make it through this legislative session without turning social services into something that Charles Dickens would recognize, we’ll have Dewhurst to thank. It won’t get him off the hook for the 79th Lege session in 2005, but it’s a start.

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One Comment

  1. R. Alex says:

    I’m not sure what to make of this… but… I might be coming around on him. Not because I agree with everything he’s saying, but because he does seem to be approaching the situation very honestly.