Friday, May 10, 2013

'No' means no money for nuthin'

Eye on Williamson caught it last night. Via Trail Blazers...

Gov. Rick Perry, conservative groups and tea party-backed House Republicans forced House leaders Thursday to pull down a bill that would have increased car registration fees to help build more roads.

Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, said a vote count showed a compromise version of his bill probably could squeak through in the House.

However, he said, “I didn’t move forward because of the prospects of cutting the members up on a vote [on a bill] that may not become law.”

Though it would pass the Texas House -- that means with Republican endorsement -- Darby withdrew his legislation because the governor Michael Quinn Sullivan did not approve.

On Wednesday, Perry made thinly veiled remarks to reporters in which he said lawmakers will be back in special session this summer if they send him transportation fee increases. As The Dallas Morning News reported in this story in Thursday’s print editions, Perry also summoned to his office House conservatives to urge them to vote against Darby’s bill.

"It sounds like Gov. Perry is serious. Do legislators think 'no' doesn’t mean 'no'?" wrote conservative activist Michael Quinn Sullivan, president of the group Empower Texans, saying he considered the bill likely to prompt Perry to call a special session. "Time will tell. Lawmakers wanting to play budget-chicken ought to be prepared for a long, hot summer in Austin."

Once more... this is where Texas Republicans find themselves: strait-jacketed by their own demagoguery.

The bill now joins the ranks of many others that dying with (Thursday's) midnight deadline for House bills to pass the lower chamber. Darby’s House Bill 3664 would have tacked on a $15 fee to motor vehicle registrations and raised more out of sales tax revenue. The San Angelo Republican’s proposal pitted GOP members against one another, a day after Gov. Rick Perry’s promised to call a special session if lawmakers tried paying for roads with a fee hike.

Darby told the Observer that Perry, who’s been fairly quiet until now this session, said he would only support covering transportation funding funded completely out of sales tax revenue from cars and trucks.

Sometimes the contortions these conservatives can twist themselves into is beyond mortal men's comprehension.

Asked if House leaders are finished with transportation funding this session, Darby said they’ve completed consideration of new sources of highway money.

“This is the last bill coming out of the House to add transportation infrastructure funding,” he said.

Darby said that’s a shame because Texas has virtually no money for launching new road projects. He said the state has borrowed almost all that it can borrow to build highways. It’s at risk of choking off economic and population growth.

The state hasn’t generally raised vehicle registration fees since 1985, nor the gasoline tax since 1991, he noted. And families bear a $1,500 “hidden tax” each year in car repairs and lost productivity from being stuck on bad roads and in traffic jams, Darby said.

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, said the bill was a test of seriousness about tackling big problems.

“If we really want to govern, at some point you can’t live on 1991 revenue streams at 2013 prices,” Aycock said.

Darby replied, “A dollar in 1991 is worth 62 cents today.”

You can substitute the word 'transportation' for Medicaid, for education, for water, for a half-dozen other critical legislative priorities. The Lege is punting now at the end of the session because none of the people elected to office wants the process of governing the state of Texas to work as it is designed to, as it is supposed to.

Once again, if you vote for and elect people who tell you government doesn't work... why would you be surprised when it doesn't?

Paul Burka offers the insider's edition on both Mucus and the governor as the kabuki plays out.

Update: And Kuff with some more.

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