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Inside Intelligence: On Retirement, Term Limits and Planned Parenthood

Will the Planned Parenthood brouhaha affect elections? Should state officeholders be able to collect retirement while they're still on the job? And should Texas lawmakers have term limits?

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This week in our nonscientific survey, we asked our insiders about Planned Parenthood, lawmakers collecting retirement and term limits.

We found out during Gov. Rick Perry's failed presidential bid that he had actually retired as governor, even though he is still doing the job. That allowed him to boost his pay by some $90,000 a year. And Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, recently found out he's also eligible to collect retirement while he stays in office. It's totally legal, but not everybody agrees it's the right thing to do. A majority of insiders, 75 percent, said officeholders shouldn't do it.

Planned Parenthood took major hits during the legislative session, and the hits from Republican lawmakers have kept on coming in the year since. The debate over the end of the Women's Health Program in Texas because of the state's refusal to allow Planned Parenthood to participate, has kept the organization in the spotlight. Will the issue play at the ballot box? Nearly two-thirds of insiders who responded this week said yes.

Finally this week, we asked insiders about term limits for legislators and for statewide officeholders. In both cases, a majority seemed to believe the current terms, decided at the ballot box, are sufficient. But our insiders were more adamant about their dislike for term limits when it comes to legislators. About 80 percent said they don't support term limits for legislators, and in the verbatim responses, many said the work at the Capitol needs the kind of experience that comes from long-term officeholders.

As always, we've attached a copy of the full verbatim answers to this week's survey. A sampling of what they had to say follows.

Will shutting off state funding for Planned Parenthood have any political repercussions in Texas?

Ben Hasson.

• “The pundits will rumble about it, but it will not change the outcome of any Texas race.”

• “Let the Austin crowd continue its gnashing of teeth. Everywhere else in Texas, this is either a non-issue or very low on the political ‘what issues will decide how I vote’ list.”

• “Many women are put off by the rhetoric and will likely offset many of their husbands votes.”

• “Good for Republicans. They can actually show results to the pro-life community and will be able to improve pro-life voter turnout. Bad for Democrats. They can't take care of their base vote. It will hurt turnout.

• "There is ZERO chance of a pro-abortion legislature in the next session. There is nothing to motivate the Democrat pro-abortion base from turning out. They lost and there is nothing they can do about it.”

• “It's a great campaign issue for both sides. The pro-life crowd can talk about how their efforts are cutting Planned Parenthood funding, and the pro-choice crowd can talk about how the pro-choice folks shouldn't let their guard down.”

Should state officeholders be allowed to collect retirement while they're still in office?

Ben Hasson.

• “They should be allowed to collect what they earned. No matter political party, gender or sexual orientation.”

• “This is flat wrong and is why the public distrusts government.”

• “Some issues strike me as useful. This one actually makes me mad.”

• “They shouldn't be able to collect retirement from the job they currently hold, but if they're collecting pension checks because they're retired teachers or firefighters, I'm OK with it.”

• “Let me get mine, first. Then, no more of this outrage.”

Do you support term limits for the governor and other statewide officials?

Ben Hasson.

• “Governor should be limited to two terms.”

• “You may not like Rick Perry (on the right) or Lloyd Doggett (on the left), but both keep getting elected by those who vote. Term limits undermine that constituency voice.”

• “Too much political ambition gets bottled-up when somebody overstays their office. On the other hand, except for governor and lieutenant governor, statewides have major operational responsibilities, which benefit from experienced leadership.”

• “How dare you suggest dear leader isn't fit to hold office for another 100 years!”

• “The best term limit is found at the ballot box.”

Do you support term limits for Texas legislators?

Ben Hasson.

• “We have term limits. They're called elections.”

• “Yes, if I can select the ones that should be term-limited. Otherwise, no, we don't need more inexperienced legislators.”

• “Six two-year terms for a state rep, and two six-year terms for a state senator should do the trick.”

• “Term limits have dramatically weakened city councils around the state and are a terrible idea for legislators because the turnover would weaken the ability of the Legislature to do business. It takes a while to learn the job. Voters have demonstrated they are quite willing to vote folks of office if they become annoyed.”

• “Bad idea. Bureaucrats would run state government.”

Our thanks to this week's participants: Adam Haynes, Albert Hawkins, Alan Erwin, Allen Blakemore, Andrew Biar, Andy Sansom, Blaine Bull, Bee Moorhead, Bill Hammond, Billy Howe, Bradford Shields, Hugh Brady, Brandon Aghamalian, Bill Ratliff, Bryan Mayes, Bruce Gibson, Bruce Scott, Tom Duffy, Cathie Adams, Chris Britton, Cal Jillson, Clyde Alexander, Colin Strother, Craig Murphy, Christopher Shields, Dennis Speight, Dan Shelley, David Dunn, Dee Simpson, Daniel Gonzalez, Dominic Giarratani, Donald Lee, Mike McKinney, Elizabeth Christian, Robert Kepple, Ellen Williams, Elna Christopher, Eric Bearse, Ed Small, Gene Acuna, George Cofer, Gardner Pate, Harold Cook, Harold De Leon, Homero Lucero, Jack Erskine, James LeBas, Jim Henson, Robert Jara, Jason Sabo, Jason Johnson, Jay Arnold, John Colyandro, Jeff Eller, Pete Laney, Jerry Philips, Parker McCollough, John Greytok, Jon Fisher, Jim Sartwelle, Jay Thompson, June Deadrick, Kathy Miller, Keats Norfleet, Kinnan Golemon, Ken Hodges, Kim Ross, Keir Murray, Kerry Cammack, Karen Reagan, Keith Strama, Ken Whalen, Lee Woods, Lydia Camarillo, Lee Parsley, Lee Soward, Luke Legate, Marc Campos, Matt Mackowiak, Dan McClung, Mark Jones, Martha Smiley, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Michael Wilt, Alex Winslow, Nef Partida, Norman Garza, Mark Sanders, Pat Nugent, Dave Beckwith, Phillip Martin, Wayne Pierce, Jay Propes, Peck Young, Randy Cubriel Richard Dyer, Richard Khouri, Richie Jackson, Rick Cofer, Robert Miller, Bob Strauser, Royce Poinsett, Russ Tidwell, Luis Saenz, Sandy Haverlah, Seth Winick, Sherry Sylvester, Sandy Kress, Snapper Carr, Steve Scurlock, Stan Schlueter, Jason Stanford, Steve Murdock, Steve Bresnen, Sylvia Nugent, Tom Banning, Tom Blanton, Terry Frakes, Thure Cannon, Tim Reeves, Tom Kleinworth, Todd Smith, Tom Phillips, Trent Townsend, Trey Trainor, Eric Glenn, Vilma Luna, Walt Baum, Corbin Casteel, William Chapman, Wil Galloway, Wayne Hamilton, Ware Wendell, Angelo Zottarelli

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