Tag Archives: Kevin Eltife

Texas Senate to lose a voice of reason

The Texas Senate already is low on reasonable voices.

It is going to lose another one at the end of next year when Republican Kevin Eltife of Tyler leaves that chamber.

Eltife has decided 23 years of public service — in his East Texas home town and then in the Senate — is enough for now. He told the Tyler Morning Telegraph he wants to spend more time enjoying the company of his family.


I respect his desire to take a breather, or perhaps step away forever. However, his absence in the 2017 Legislature will be felt in a body governed aggressively by the TEA party wing of the GOP, and that includes Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the 31-member body.

Republicans hold a commanding majority. One of the other more reasonable members happens to be Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, who was elected to the Senate the same year as Eltife.

Seliger often speaks kindly of his colleague, as he should.

Eltife resisted efforts to cut taxes in the 2015 Legislature without dedicating some public money to improving infrastructure and some other obligations to the public.

I’ve been concerned that the Legislature might be hijacked by the TEA party. Both chambers need reasonable men and women to keep the zealots from running amok.

The Senate is about to lose one of its voices of reason.

Will there be more? I’m hoping the answer is a resounding “no!”



State senator incurs power broker's wrath

State Sen. Kel Seliger is no fan of Michael Quinn Sullivan … and vice versa.

A piece of mail arrived at my home this week from an outfit called Empower Texans, a political action group headed by Sullivan, a would-be state political kingmaker. Its subject? Seliger absent on tax relief efforts.

It seems that Sullivan is on board with the tax cutting frenzy that many conservatives seem to prefer at the moment. Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have put forth an agenda of “reducing property and business taxes,” which Sullivan said has been “set as a priority for conservative lawmakers for the legislative session.”

Senate Bill 1 would provide $4.6 billion in tax cuts. Only two Republican senators oppose it. One of them is Seliger of Amarillo. My strong hunch is that the other GOP senator to oppose it is Kevin Eltife of Tyler.


This disagreement highlights one of the critical difficulties facing the Texas Republican Party. Does the party keep cutting taxes while the state has the money on hand to do things, such as fix roads and bridges? Or does the state do what Eltife and, presumably, Seliger want to do, which take is care of some vital needs before cutting taxes?

I happen to agree with the Eltife approach (as mentioned in the blog post attached to this item).

That’s not the case with the folks who are calling most of the shots in the Legislature. Eltife, wrote the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey, “wants the meat and potatoes before dessert. Most of his colleagues, however, have their eyes on the pies.”

I should add that Sullivan found a candidate to run in 2014 against Seliger, former Midland Mayor Mike Canon. Sullivan backed Canon to the hilt, only to fall short when the votes were counted throughout the sprawling Senate District 31.

Are you having fun yet, Sen. Seliger?


Ex-mayor sounds cautious tone in Texas Senate

Kevin Eltife is demonstrating that reason still exists inside the Texas Senate.

He’s a former Tyler mayor who’s served in the Legislature for a decade. While many of his colleagues — perhaps most of them — want to cut taxes, Eltife is sounding a note of caution and restraint.

Let’s take care of some business, Eltife asks. Sure. Why not?


As the Texas Tribune’s Ross Ramsey notes: “This is a peculiar time in Texas: The state government has more money than its lawmakers are willing to spend. Political respect for a constitutional cap on growth of the state budget is high, as is the appetite for property tax cuts — especially among Republicans.”

Eltife is a Republican, but he remains part of what’s been called the “establishment wing” of his party. He has a few allies in the Senate. One of them is Kel Seliger, a fellow Republican, from Amarillo. The two men joined the Senate at the same time and have been trying to take a more moderate course in a body commanded by the more conservative wing of their party, starting with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

“Everybody wants a tax cut,” Eltife said in an interview with the Texas Tribune. “I want one. I just think it’s more conservative to meet your obligations first.”

Those obligations include, say, public education, highway infrastructure and an assortment of other items that have gone begging back when money was tight and demand was high. Now it appears the reverse is true.

As Ramsey wrote of Eltife: “He wants the meat and potatoes before dessert. Most of his colleagues, however, have their eyes on the pies.”