May 05, 2004
A hundred and twenty-six to nothing

I'm going to try to pick up some of the tatters of the most recent budget "plan" from the House and make something coherent out of it a bit later, but for now, take a moment to digest this story, headlined "A House united - against Perry".

Gov. Rick Perry finally found the consensus Tuesday that he'd been seeking on public school finance: a 126-0 House vote against his plan.

In a bipartisan show of pique, lawmakers slapped the governor for publicly trashing key elements of the House plan the day before major debate was to begin.

Mr. Perry on Monday called the House plan's proposed 1.25 percent payroll tax against businesses "an economic U-turn" and "a job killer" and issued a thinly veiled threat to veto it. He pitched his own plan again, saying it was looking "prettier and prettier."

But actually, things only got ugly.

House leaders decided to vote on the governor's plan Tuesday before they began serious work on their proposal.

Mr. Perry has called for a split tax roll having the state collect business property taxes and leaving residential taxes collected locally. He also favors "sin taxes" on cigarettes and strip clubs, and video gambling.

Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, the author of the payroll tax proposal, took to the floor and said he thought the House should consider the governor's plan first as a courtesy.

"In the Texas House, we don't give press release warnings. No, we just vote bills up or down," Mr. Keffer said.

So he sponsored the bill and laid it out before the House. But his pitch for the plan resembled a fastball at the head.

"He called us here without so much as a consensus and then undermined our process and criticized the committee's plan," Mr. Keffer said.

Without going into details, the sponsor said he intended to vote no, and then offered a Will Rogers saying for the governor: "If you're going to ride point, look behind every once in a while and make sure the herd's behind you."

Rep. Mike Krusee, R-Round Rock, pleaded with his colleagues not to vote. "This is wrong. This is childish."

He said it was unfair to take the unperfected bill in its original form and present it "just to spite" and "to embarrass."

Mr. Krusee said if the governor chose to publicly speak of his opposition to business taxes, "that's his prerogative."

The members might have listened, but they did not herd. When the vote board lit up, there were more "no" red lights than a five-alarm blaze. By the end, 126 voted against the governor. Sixteen white lights indicated present but not voting.

Three longtime Capitol observers said they'd never seen such a public rebuke of a governor.

Remember, that was a Republican who sponsored this bill. And, as noted here, Speaker Craddick had to allow it to come to the floor. Wasn't this special session a great idea?

UPDATE: Not that it's a big deal, but the Star Telegram identified one of the "longtime Capitol observers" as Harvey Kronberg, editor of the Quorum Report.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 05, 2004 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

Wow! 126-0.

I bet Dennis Franchione is breathing a little easier now the Gov. Perry has set the new standard for the worst shutout ever laid on an Aggie.

Posted by: Patrick on May 5, 2004 2:25 PM