For this week’s nonscientific survey of insiders in government and politics, we asked them to grade Greg Abbott on his emergency items as well as evaluate the substance of Jonathan Stickland and the likelihood of tax relief that Texans can feel.
For the most part, the insiders are withholding final judgment on Abbott's performance in delivering on his emergency items. On four of the five emergency items — border security, ethics, higher education and transportation — a plurality gave Abbott an incomplete.
The exception was early education, where nearly half the insiders gave Abbott either an A or a B.
With a couple of weeks left in session and the three weeks beyond that for Abbott's veto period, the high incidence of incompletes makes sense. We'll say for now that Abbott is at the midterm. We'll check back again in a few weeks to see what the insiders' final determinations are.
A majority of the insiders — 57 percent — didn't feel that any of these emergency items would trigger a special session.
On the topic of Stickland, this session's perennial back mic occupant, a majority of 53 percent described him as a showhorse, while just 2 percent described him as a workhorse.
Another 20 percent said he was both while 25 percent said neither description fit him.
And with talk of tax cuts dominating the discussion this week in the Legislature, we asked the insiders if the end result would be tax relief that Texans would feel.
Nearly three-fourths said no, while a bit less than one in four said the tax relief would be something that could be felt.
We collected comments along the way, and a full set of those is attached. Here’s a sampling:
Let’s assess Gov. Greg Abbott’s performance on his emergency items:
• "Some believe the governor is not a glad-handing, back slapping legislative animal. Others believe, his judicial training and background creates a starting point based on attorney-client privilege, not a get-along-to-go-along posture. In deference, giving the benefit of the doubt is certainly appropriate."
• "The red meat primary issue (Border security) has been secured. The only thing left in the agenda is not to screw up."
• "We may, surprisingly, see a real fall-off from his predecessors in terms of leadership. I was expecting more, frankly."
• "When you set the bar low it's not hard to step over."
• "Abbott has been absent this entire session. While Abbott has capable people in Randy Erben, Jay Dyer, all orders are coming from Daniel Hodge. Since he doesn't have legislative experience, this lack of experience is having a detrimental impact on the Gov."
If the Legislature doesn’t complete work on any one of his emergency items, will he call them back for a special session?
• "Maybe border security, it is a hot button issue to those who support other state-wide elected officials."
• "But going back for tax relief is a huge gamble if a reduced revenue estimate provides no tax relief. Read carefully between the lines of the Comptroller's recent comments on funding needs."
• "But he will call us back if tax cuts don't get done."
• "He's a new Governor with three things at his discretion: appointment authority, veto power, and ability to call a Special Session. He's got a pen and he'll show he knows how to use it."
• "If he calls them back for a special session, it will be for budget and tax, not for these emergency items. Either the emergency items will pass in some form, or he'll wave them off."
Jonathan Stickland, workhorse or showhorse?
• "He works hard for his folks, his constituents, like-minded Reps and those like-minded interest groups outside the capitol. However, history shows us the enthusiasm for this movement will fade as it is incorporated into the main stream. Recall the TEA party started out as a conservative ECONOMIC movement but has more and more begun to reflect conservative SOCIAL issues as well, same song, next verse."
• "He's done some homework (albeit not well), but his motives are for political favor."
• "He's a show horse, but so is TMF — Stickland is portrayed in the media as ridiculous when he goes into his Don Quixote routine but TMF is portrayed as some kind of hero — the 'bull of the Brazos,' The job of legislators is to work with others to pass legislation — neither of them does much of that — they are both obstructionists, but only one of them is given a lot of grief over it."
• "An earnest youngster who is getting his nose bloodied in the real political world. He'll be better off for it, if he has the sense to learn the lesson that even though he thinks he is right all the time, no one else does. It's always better to listen to the other side. He is at risk of becoming a cartoon."
• "I am not sure anyone can really figure out what Stickland's point is or what he is trying to accomplish. It appears he is just trying to insert Chaos."
Will the Legislature give Texans tax relief they can feel?
• "Even at $4.9B no one will feel it. Made for TV tax cut."
• "The problem is they will be able to feel it in the short term, but they will not be able to remember it in the long term."
• "If the House backs the Senate property tax reduction. The House sales tax cut will give most tax paying families happy meals for all. The proposed reduction is comical."
• "If they get a sales tax cut, those Texans who care to look at their receipt may 'feel' it in that sense. No one will feel any of these tax cut proposals in their standard of living, however. The cuts are all basically fluff but help keep down the size of government."
• "Tax relief will be approved, but it depends on your definition of 'can feel.' I may not 'feel' $200/annually, but another person would be elated to see $200/annually."
Our thanks to this week's participants: Gene Acuna, Clyde Alexander, George Allen, Jay Arnold, Charles Bailey, James Bernsen, Andrew Biar, Allen Blakemore, Tom Blanton, Chris Britton, Kerry Cammack, Snapper Carr, Corbin Casteel, Elna Christopher, Harold Cook, Kevin Cooper, Randy Cubriel, Curtis Culwell, Denise Davis, June Deadrick, Holly DeShields, Tom Duffy, David Dunn, Jack Erskine, John Esparza, Jon Fisher, Tom Forbes, Neftali Garcia, Dominic Giarratani, Bruce Gibson, Stephanie Gibson, Scott Gilmore, Eric Glenn, Kinnan Golemon, Daniel Gonzalez, Jim Grace, Wayne Hamilton, Bill Hammond, Ken Hodges, Steve Holzheauser, Deborah Ingersoll, Mark Jones, Robert Kepple, Richard Khouri, Tom Kleinworth, Sandy Kress, Dale Laine, Nick Lampson, Pete Laney, Dick Lavine, James LeBas, Luke Legate, Homero Lucero, Matt Mackowiak, Jason McElvaney, Steve Minick, Bee Moorhead, Mike Moses, Steve Murdock, Keats Norfleet, Todd Olsen, Nef Partida, Gardner Pate, Bill Pewitt, Tom Phillips, Wayne Pierce, Allen Place, Kraege Polan, Gary Polland, Jay Pritchard, Ted Melina Raab, Tim Reeves, Patrick Reinhart, David Reynolds, Carl Richie, Jeff Rotkoff, Grant Ruckel, Jim Sartwelle, Barbara Schlief, Stan Schlueter, Steve Scurlock, Ed Small, Mark Smith, Larry Soward, Leonard Spearman, Dennis Speight, Colin Strother, Michael Quinn Sullivan, Sherry Sylvester, Sara Tays, Trey Trainor, David White, Darren Whitehurst, Woody Widrow, Seth Winick, Angelo Zottarelli.