It’s time for the week that was in Texas politics with Jay Aiyer, assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University.
On bipartisanship at the Texas Capitol:
The honeymoon period of the Big Three [Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patric, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen] is still very much in force there. I think certainly on the House side, I think bipartisanship is definitely very much in play. … And for the most part, the three leaders of Texas government, right now, are singing from the same songbook. All of them are essentially saying this is about school finance.
On Lt. Gov. Patrick and House Speaker Bonnen getting along:
At least at this stage, [Lt.] Gov. Patrick’s made a decision to not oppose the way he did Joe Straus. Bonnen is … a stark difference from Straus. He’s considered much more pugnacious than Straus was, and he has, I think, probably much greater support from all factions within the House. … He starts this at a much stronger position, and Patrick himself – he limped in in terms of re-election.
On Bonnen stocking a Capitol lounge with cups promoting school finance reform:
He is laying down a marker that this is going to be the session where he and the Texas House really are gonna lead on school-finance reform. … All three leaders are saying that is the primary issue, that and tax reform.
On the state budget:
Comptroller [Glenn] Hegar gave them the forecast on what they could expect this biennium: $120 billion. About $9 billion more than they had last go around. Plus, you’ve got $15 billion in the rainy day fund, so they’ve got money to work with to kind of bridge the gap. This is probably as good a time as any that they’ve had in terms of being able to fix school finance.