It's May of an odd-numbered year, so we asked the insiders whether the big stuff will get finished during regulation time or whether there will be special sessions this summer, and about what issues won't get resolved.
The insiders tilt, slightly, toward a special session, with 51 percent saying lawmakers won't finish work on the budget by Memorial Day (when the session ends) and 47 percent saying they will.
The Texas House has already voted out its redistricting map and sent it to the Senate, and the State Board of Education maps have already been approved by both houses and sent to the governor. The Senate didn't start (in public) on its own map until after the budget was out. Even so, 69 percent of the insiders think senators will vote out a map before the end of the month.
Congressional redistricting is also coming in late, and the insiders are less optimistic here: 43 percent say the Legislature will produce new congressional maps, and 45 percent say they won't.
A copy of the full answers is attached, but here's a sampling:
Will the House and Senate agree on a budget or will that issue force one or more special sessions this summer?
• "Neither House nor Senate want to start the process all over again in the summer."
• "How can they agree on how much to spend when they don't even agree on how much we have in the bank to spend?"
• "They will get out of their jam by deferring over six billion into the next biennium, allowing the House to add only a few billion to their version and the Senate to say they are betting on the rebounding economy (or the Economic Stabilization Fund) to bail them out of having to implement severe cuts to public education and health and human services in 2013. Either way, I think they should halt their pursuit of a federal balanced budget resolution. Makes them look just a little hypocritical to be pointing their fingers while playing with their own balance sheet."
• "They'll agree, but without a single Democratic vote in either the House or the Senate. There will be no question who owns the budget - Republicans."
• "I thought they might finish on time. I still think there's a chance, but it is shrinking by the day. The gap is just too large."
• "The House and Senate may well see a draft conference committee report, perhaps an actual conference committee report, and they may even adopt a conference committee report. However, they will not agree on a school finance bill--a necessary accompaniment--leading us into one or more special sessions this summer."
Will the Senate vote out a redistricting map?
• "Easiest redistricting job of the whole bunch: just one big incumbent protection racket."
• "They have about 17 days to pass it out of the Senate, but the House will hold it hostage until the Senate conferees agree to more cuts in the budget."
• "The Dems will block with the Senate's two-thirds rule."
• "They don't want 4 or 5 people who have higher offices in mind drawing their future"
• "Although the Democrats would be better off with a Senate drawn map than one crafted by the LRB, it would seem they stick together. That along with a handful of unhappy Republicans will make it difficult to pass a map."
Will the House and Senate agree on a congressional redistricting map?
• "Not enough time. Three federal judges will get to decide how much work political consultants get for the next decade."
• "They don't want a court to do it. If they think they'll be in special on the budget anyway, they might not rush it."
• "Where is Tom DeLay when we need him?"
• "Sure--but maybe not during the regular session."
• "It will be difficult for the Senate to get a map voted out. If this one goes to special session, however, they do have a chance of getting it done."
What issues are most likely to be left unfinished at the end of the session?
• "Transportation, corporate practice of medicine"
• "Budget, Senate & House Redistricting"
• "How to fix the structural deficit, how to pay for highways, how to pay for water, how to pay for the last three months of the two-year state budget."
• "Congressional redistricting, any semblance of business tax reform, funding for the state water plan and probably at least one sunset bill will run out of gas."
• "Budget, redistricting and one or two other 'urgent' items like meddling with women's reproductive rights. 3 specials total - all summer."
• "The state's structural deficit and the related failure to implement a sustainable and stable revenue stream for K-12 education."
• "Health, education and many others, if your question goes to leadership. If it is only a question of crossing the t's and dotting i's, it will all get taken care of."
• "EVERYTHING. Despite a super-majority, the Republicans can't agree to pass anything because they are too spooked by the hard right. This will/should be known as the do-nothing legislature."
• "Are you kidding? They'll finish!"
• "I bet it will be gambling."
• "Guns on Campus"
• "TWIA funding reform. TDI and other agencies' sunset review."
Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Louis Bacarisse, Charles Bailey, Mike Barnett, Eric Bearse, Dave Beckwith, Mark Bell, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Fred Bosse, Hugh Brady, Steve Bresnen, Andy Brown, Lydia Camarillo, Snapper Carr, Tris Castaneda, Elizabeth Christian, George Cofer, Rick Cofer, Harold Cook, Hector De Leon, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Jeff Eller, Alan Erwin, Jon Fisher, Wil Galloway, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Scott Gilmore, Daniel Gonzalez, Jim Grace, John Greytok, Billy Hamilton, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Sandy Haverlah, Albert Hawkins, Adam Haynes, Jim Henson, Ken Hodges, Steve Holzheauser, Deborah Ingersoll, Cal Jillson, Jason Johnson, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Ramey Ko, Sandy Kress, Tim Lambert, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, James LeBas, Donald Lee, Luke Legate, Leslie Lemon, Ruben Longoria, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Dan McClung, Scott McCown, Robert Miller, Steve Mostyn, Steve Murdock, Craig Murphy, Keir Murray, Richard Murray, Gardner Pate, Bill Pewitt, Tom Phillips, John Pitts, Royce Poinsett, Kraege Polan, Ted Melina Raab, Bill Ratliff, Tim Reeves, Carl Richie, Jason Sabo, Mark Sanders, Jim Sartwelle, Stan Schlueter, Bradford Shields, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Terral Smith, Todd Smith, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Jason Stanford, Bob Stein, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Russ Tidwell, Ware Wendell, Ken Whalen, Darren Whitehurst, Woody Widrow, Chad Wilbanks, Alex Winslow, Peck Young, Angelo Zottarelli.