With a new set of officeholders coming into every one of the executive positions on this year’s statewide ballot, we asked our politics and government insiders about how things are going and what is likely to change with new people in charge.
Two in five believe the state is going in the right direction and is performing well, while 25 percent believe exactly the opposite. Another 18 percent think the government is doing a bad job but is moving in the right direction, while 13 percent say it’s doing a good job but moving in the wrong direction.
About a third said both the direction and performance of the government will change with new management; about as many said neither variable will change. Seventeen percent expect better performance, and 14 percent expect a change in direction
The insiders expect the executive branch and the House to be the bright spots in state government when new people take over; 73 percent expect the new state Senate to be the dark spot.
We collected comments along the way and a full set of those is attached. Here’s a sampling:
What do you think about the direction and performance of the state government right now?
• "The state must be doing something right because all these folks keep moving to Texas. But when I think about issues folks care about, I'm left with the impression the state could/should do more. For example, road congestion across the state is horrible. We need new roads and we need to better maintain existing roads. Why aren't we building new roads to keep up with growth? Why don't we have funding for them today? Why didn't our leaders foresee this need? State Prop 1 is a drop in the bucket, but it at least acknowledges the issue. What about public education (performance and cost), energy, water, property tax relief, etc. "
• "Government Performance: more or less is operating professionally and to the best of their abilities. As far as direction goes - they can only do what the Legislature tells them to do and that is a mixed bag."
• "Verbal contracts allowing political cronies to get millions in taxpayer dollars, toll roads everywhere but regular roads in horrible and dangerous conditions, state parks are struggling and in disrepair, average state employee salaries still at $51k (since about 1990) but top level salaries have skyrocketed, college and university tuition is out of reach for most Texans, cost of living and percentage of taxes for average Texan is huge for a 'low tax state' -That was just a start."
• "Roads, water, health care and education are just being kicked down the road. State debt has almost tripled in last 12 years, but he local guys get accused of not having their fiscal house in order."
• "Economy is good, but not enough investment of our amazing fortunes in education, infrastructure, and health (including mental health) care."
Do you expect direction or performance to change significantly (for better or worse) when new officeholders take over in January?
• "Seems like with the influx of Tea Party members, they are likely to be disinclined to make the investments the state needs to maintain its economic prowess."
• "This is Texas, 'pardna'. Bidness will continue to get bidness done at the capitol. Officeholders sometimes get in the way."
• "Like the proverbial oil tanker, state government turns slowly. "
The bright spots after the changeover?
• "Hopefully more of the same - great jobs, balanced budget, affordable living. Sounds good to me."
• "For the Tea Party, the bright spot is the huge number of Tea Party senators. For the pro-business folks, it's the adults in control in the House. For Democrats, it's 2018 and beyond."
• "New Senators will bring good business standards that are desperately needed."
• "The House becomes the voice of reason. HAHAHAHAH!!!!"
• "There will be big changes in philosophies and personalities. It will be interesting to see how each of the new officeholders direct the agencies and the state, but also exciting to see fresh faces and ideas emerge."
The dark spots after the changeover?
• "This Session will be Speaker Straus' to fashion. Hang on to your wallets!"
• "It won't be long before the Senators are swinging like monkeys from the rafters like the House members. "
• "In DC style, the Senate is poised to go from fixin' to fightin'. What a waste of time and resources."
• "The AG's office will be in a leadership/legal turmoil. "
• "All of the above."
Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Cathie Adams, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Dave Beckwith, Ann Beeson, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, David Cabrales, Raif Calvert, Lydia Camarillo, Kerry Cammack, Snapper Carr, Corbin Casteel, William Chapman, Elna Christopher, John Colyandro, Kevin Cooper, Beth Cubriel, Randy Cubriel, Curtis Culwell, Denise Davis, Hector De Leon, June Deadrick, Nora Del Bosque, Glenn Deshields, Holly DeShields, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Richard Dyer, Jeff Eller, Jack Erskine, John Esparza, Wil Galloway, Norman Garza, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Stephanie Gibson, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Jim Grace, John Greytok, Clint Hackney, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, John Heasley, Ken Hodges, Steve Holzheauser, Deborah Ingersoll, Mark Jones, Robert Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Dale Laine, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Leslie Lemon, Myra Leo, Ruben Longoria, Vilma Luna, Matt Mackowiak, Luke Marchant, Jason McElvaney, Steve Minick, Mike Moses, Nelson Nease, Keats Norfleet, Pat Nugent, Todd Olsen, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Robert Peeler, Jerry Philips, Tom Phillips, Richard Pineda, Allen Place, Kraege Polan, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Jay Propes, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, Grant Ruckel, Tyler Ruud, Jason Sabo, Andy Sansom, Jim Sartwelle, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Robert Scott, Bradford Shields, Christopher Shields, Jason Skaggs, Ed Small, Martha Smiley, Larry Soward, Dennis Speight, Bob Strauser, Colin Strother, Sherry Sylvester, Jay Thompson, Gerard Torres, Trey Trainor, Vicki Truitt, Corbin Van Arsdale, Ken Whalen, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Angelo Zottarelli.