HOUSTON — In a state where right wing followers of George W. Bush have been dominant, it is refreshing to watch our new legislature, both House and Senate. The Texas House voted 149 to 0, with one lawmaker absent, for a budget which would increase funding for financial aid for college students and will allow the possibility of adding more children to the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
This has become possible because of the removal of the iron-fisted former Speaker of the House Tom Craddick. The new speaker, Rep. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio), has made a huge difference.
The House also bucked Gov. Rick Perry’s refusal to take Obama administration stimulus package money, particularly for Unemployment Insurance.
“There’s a new sheriff in town,” declared Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, “and it ain’t us.”
The Texas legislature showed solidarity in giving Gov. Rick Perry an offer he can’t refuse. They have threatened to take the money ($136 million) in the Texas Enterprise Fund (a slush fund for Perry) and apply it to Unemployment Compensation if he fails to accept to $555 million in federal funds for unemployed workers.
“This action during the appropriations debate continues bipartisan momentum in the Legislature toward the conclusion that Texas would be making a huge mistake if it lets a once-in-a-lifetime half-billion-dollar-plus boost to the Texas Unemployment Insurance system get away,” Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller said. “This action is another step in overcoming political and ideological opposition to a common-sense move that helps unemployed Texans and does right by employers.”
Many Texas progressives are delighted with the splits which are cropping up among the right wingers who have opposed social progress in this state.