All Coverage

Dog-piling, Grandstanding or Rescuing?

It'll take months to know which part of the headline is correct, but however it goes, you have to say that Carole Keeton Rylander took over the Texas School Performance Review with a bang. She returned -- uninvited -- to the room where she taught high school history years ago to say that she was going to send her staff and a team of consultants over to find out what ails the Austin school district.

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Other People's Money

With the notable exception of a certain campaign for president, the fundraising season is off to a slow start. You don't have to believe us -- the evidence can be found in the stacks on the tenth floor of the Sam Houston Building, where the Texas Ethics Commission keeps candidate reports on contributions and expenditures, and increasingly, on candidate borrowing.

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Big Numbers, Little Numbers

George W. Bush, who for fundraising purposes can be referred to as Godzilla, ended June with contributions of $37 million for the first half of the year, about $700,000 more than his campaign had estimated a couple of weeks ago. That means, among other things, that he'll give up federal matching funds and with them, the limits on how much he can spend during the primaries.

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A New and Improved Teflon Politician

Call it irony, call it blowback, call it what you'd like: George W. Bush takes a shot for hauling his state-paid protective detail all over the country during his presidential bid. That story, in the Austin American-Statesman, came within two days of stories about First Lady Hillary Clinton flying between Washington, DC, and New York state, where she has an exploratory committee for a U.S. Senate bid.

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That Giant Sucking Sound

If you've ever been in line behind someone who loaded up their plate with hors d'oeuvres and left nothing for you, you know how the Republican candidates for president feel about Gov. George W. Bush. Aside from the pure astonishment at the Texan's fundraising prowess, they have to reassess their own situations. He's raised so much money they have a hard time explaining their place in the Republican primary for president. It's probably no coincidence that several of the Republicans began talking in the last two weeks about running as Reform Party candidates or as independents.

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Surprise: Pauline Rescued from Train

In our last episode, an unforeseen problem in the massive school finance bill was threatening several bond issues from Texas school districts and prompting several others to calculate how much they'd have to raise their taxes to pay for facilities they previously thought would be paid for with state money. If this was the "Perils of Pauline," we're to the part where the good guys show up and pull her off the tracks before the train can run her down.

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Another Fine School Finance Mess

When they were cobbling together the $3.8 billion education bill in the last days and hours of the legislative session, lawmakers bollixed up state funding for new and old school district debt, jeopardizing some future construction and possibly forcing some districts to raise property taxes to cover the costs of construction that has already been completed or that is underway.

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Five Months of Appetizers

Someone asked this week whether we had been able to find a defining moment of the legislative session. Our candidate: It happened on March 2, Texas Independence Day, on the lawn of the Governor's Mansion, when Gov. George W. Bush said officially that he's pondering a presidential run.

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Bombs From the Other Side of the Aisle

At the end of the last legislative session, people were complaining about the ability of the most conservative House members to disrupt that chamber's business. This session, the liberals have been in charge of the grenades, and they have found their own place as a spoiler in a system that historically likes to run on compromise and negotiation. As the Republicans have improved their ability to hold together a bloc of votes, the Democrats have slipped.

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90 Percent of Success is Showing Up

Democrats of both the native and national varieties (and Republicans with presidential ambitions) have been chipping away at Gov. George W. Bush for what they see as his failure to stake out a leadership position on the hate crime bill that got spiked by the Texas Senate. And their next line of argument is that Bush isn't tuned into anything at all, at least not to anything that's of concern to the Texas Legislature. That ain't necessarily so.

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Who Moves Up If Bush Moves On?

We begin with an "if": What happens if Gov. George W. Bush moves from the white mansion at 11th and Colorado in Austin to the larger digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.? Well, unless he refuses to take the office, Lt. Gov. Rick Perry would move into the governor's office.

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Nothing Special About a Special Session

We're not sure where the rumor of a special session started, but we checked our Dear Diary entries for the last couple of legislative sessions, and the rumor is right on time. Time is running out, people are starting to worry about their legislation, and some desperate souls are starting to talk about the need for a special session if such-and-such isn't dealt with during regulation play.

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Bad News Bounces Right Off

If you think the governor is getting hammered on his plans for the state's huge financial surplus, you're arguably right. But if you think he has a big political stake in the details of teacher pay and taxes, you're probably wrong. All that matters in the end is the big picture.

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When It Rains, It Leaks

The plan about a year ago was to dedicate the newest state office building – the one named after former legislator and parliamentarian Robert E. Johnson – before the legislative session. That completion date was moved several times, each date a little closer to the session, then to March 1, then to June 1, and finally, to late August or early September

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Attack of the Mutant Subcommittee

We'll start this tale by saying that when the House is charged about two months from now in the death of legislation on third parties being sued in tort cases, the Senate will have to be charged with aiding and abetting the murder. Maybe they didn't mean to do it. But the Senate's lack of speed has made it easy for the House opponents to whack the bill without taking much heat for it.

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Legislative Concentrate: A Five-Week Session

A lobbyist of some repute (take that either way you want to) pulled out a legislative calendar to make an interesting and graphic point: There are exactly five weeks between the end of the Easter legislative break and the day the House rules begin to brake legislative activity.

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Everything's on the B-List, But It's a Long List

It's a strange thing to walk through the Texas Capitol on a weekday afternoon. There are the familiar crowded committee rooms, the halls filled with lobbyists, the shark tank in the Capitol extension filled with Cub Scouts, smokers and people whose cellular phones won't work anywhere else in the underground.

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Why Rally If the Votes Are Truly Locked Up?

Ordinarily, anyone who could collect more than 80 House votes for an issue before it's even been heard in committee would be happy indeed. But the folks pushing to expand the Children's Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, to the maximum are worried about the depth of their support.

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