Democrats Resurgent In Texas

Posted in 80th Legislature, Around The State, Commentary, Uncategorized at 10:10 am by wcnews

BOR has this post up about Democratic doings in Tarrant County over the weekend as well as a link to this Startlegram article from over the weekend, Teacher raise could signal shift in House.

When a largely united bloc of Democrats teamed up with nearly two dozen Republicans to tack an across-the-board pay raise for schoolteachers onto the proposed state budget late Thursday, state Rep. Jim Dunnam said he felt a sea change in the Texas House.

Dunnam, a six-term lawmaker from Waco who leads the House Democratic Caucus, said the 90-56 vote for the pay raise might have been the first time since the Republicans won control of the chamber four years ago that its leaders were unable to exert their will over the rank-and-file membership on an issue of substance.

“I think what it demonstrated was that we have a working bipartisan majority that can get things done on some very key issues,” Dunnam said after House members adopted their version of the proposed $150.1 billion two-year state budget. “When we tried that two years ago or four years ago, we got rolled about every time.”

To be sure, the proposed budget, approved 132-16 in the wee hours of Friday after a debate that started at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, closely reflected the priorities of House Republican leaders.

But the priorities were far removed from the austere spending plan of 2003, when social programs were pared back and pay raises for public employees were deferred so lawmakers could bridge a $9.9 billion shortfall without asking Texans to pay higher taxes. The 2008-09 budget proposal, which must still be considered by the Senate, would expand the rolls of the state-backed Children’s Health Insurance Program and Medicaid, and increase reimbursements for doctors who treat indigent patients.

In other words it’s not perfect but it’s much, much better than it was four years ago. With Democratic gains in the last election cycle it’s made Craddick’s strong-arm tactics less effective and given GOP legislators a reason not to follow Craddick over the right-wing cliff.

What all of this says is that the GOP “my-way-or-the-highway” leadership tactics have sent Texans looking for other options, and that naturally leads Texans to start looking at the Democratic Party again. And when you compare folks like Jim Dunnam, Garnet Coleman, Hank Gilbert and the like with what the GOP is offering it’s definitely worth a look. Especially if they’re going to continue with this kind of behavior.

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