Tag Archives: Greg Abbott

GOP state lawmakers stand on principle

Texas Republican legislators’ rebellion against Gov. Greg Abbott’s effort to siphon money from public education and hand it to private schools deserves another notice from this blog.

I already have spoken kindly about rural Republicans’ efforts to block the initiative, citing their belief in the strength that public education brings to their communities. The effort is so united and unbreakable through four special legislative sessions that Abbott appears to have given up on the fight for the time being.

The legislators answer to the voters, not to the political leadership in Austin. For their loyalty to the votes who send them to office, I applaud them.

Their resistance against political leadership reminds me of a struggle that occurred in Washington in the mid-1990s. It involved a West Texas congressman, Republican Larry Combest of Lubbock and his refusal to back the Freedom to Farm legislation pushed by newly installed House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Combest told Gingrich he opposed the agriculture overhaul effort because the farmers and ranchers who voted him into office opposed it. He would side with the South Plains and High Plains voters who expressed their opposition. One of the effects of the legislation would be to reduce the farm and ranch subsidies that went to those who worked the land.

I applauded Combest vociferously at the time while I worked for the Amarillo Globe-News as editorial page editor. I spoke with considerable passion about the guts Combest displayed in resisting Gingrich. It would cost Combest a coveted chairmanship of the House Agriculture Committee. Gingrich coaxed a retired Republican from Oregon, Bob Smith, to run again for the House and gave him the chairman’s gavel.

Combest eventually asked me to back off on my criticism of Gingrich. “I have to work with these guys,” Combest said. I don’t recall my precise answer, but I believe I said something like, “Too bad, Larry. I’m going to stay on it.”

Combest displayed plenty of backbone then. Texas rural GOP legislators are showing plenty of the same thing now.

Stand tall!

Politics of revenge: unbecoming and ugly

Two of Texas’s top politicians are seeking to exact revenge against members of their own political party and frankly, it is unbecoming of both of them to seek to get back at their fellow Republicans.

Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have launched their revenge strategies seeking to defeat pols who voted against school vouchers and voted in favor of an impeachment initiative.

Abbott wants so badly to rob the public education till to benefit private schools that he’s targeting GOP lawmakers in the House who opposed the notion; most of the Republicans opposing the notion represent rural school districts where public schools are the centerpiece, the lifeblood of their communities

Paxton avoided being kicked out of office after the House impeached him on allegations that he’s a vengeful crook who did sweet deals to benefit a leading political ally. The Senate tossed the articles of impeachment aside.

These two MAGA Republicans are singing off the hymnal offered by Donald Trump, who has vowed to be “your retribution” in 2024.

It’s disgusting, man.

Abbott’s striking is more repugnant to me, given that he is attacking lawmakers who are listening to their constituents and following their wishes rather than heeding the demands of the governor. I am not excusing Paxton for an instant, though. I long have believed that Paxton is a disgrace to the legal profession and to the AG’s office.

But … here we are, on the eve of an election year. Two statewide politicians are vowing to engage in local elections and try to persuade legislators’ constituents that these Republicans should be defeated. Why? Because they aren’t doing governor’s and the AG’s bidding.

Disgraceful.

They work for us … not them!

How many times am I going to say what I’ve been saying since The Flood … which is that our legislators — be they state or federal — work for the people who elect them, not for those who run their respective legislative bodies?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, throttled in his effort to rob public schools of money and handing it to private institutions, is targeting Republican legislators who had the temerity to vote against his school voucher plan. He is endorsing opponents of GOP incumbents seeking re-election in 2024.

Let’s set the record straight. The GOP legislators who oppose school vouchers represent rural districts that depend heavily on the health and livelihood of their public schools. They pledge to their constituents to support public education, given that in many rural communities the school system serves as the lifeblood of the community. Abbott wants to unseat House Republicans who oppose his crusade for school vouchers, which would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to help pay for private school costs.

They did not pledge to support every single legislative agenda topic favored by Abbott!

This is ham-handed governance at its worst.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is employing the same strategy against those lawmakers who voted to impeach him earlier this year. For the purposes of this blog post, I am going to concentrate on Abbott’s campaign of revenge.

It is absurd!

To their credit, the rural GOP legislators who dug in against vouchers have held firm in their opposition, likely signaling an end to the string of special legislative sessions Abbott kept calling in an effort to foist his voucher plan on Texans. Their resistance infuriates Abbott, to be sure.

My response to that? Big … fu**ing … deal!

These lawmakers are looking out for the interests of the folks who sent them to Austin to do their bidding, not dance to the tune called by Greg Abbott.

Game over, Gov. Abbott

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott hasn’t yet disclosed whether he plans to summon the Legislature for a fifth special session.

My hope is that he calls it a day, surrenders to the reality that his cherished school voucher program is DOA, that the House of Reps isn’t going to go along with his notion of robbing public education of money to benefit private schools.

He can wait until the 2025 Legislature to try again, even though it will remain a bad idea in two years.

Rural GOP lawmakers bristled at the notion of taking money from public schools. Why? Because the school system is the heart and soul of many of these communities. I endorse their resistance.

To that end, Gov. Abbott needs to call it quits on this notion.

Our Legislature comprises Texans who have day jobs when they’re not legislating. It’s expensive to the state to call them back. It’s also expensive to many of our lawmakers who need to put their working lives on hold.

Give it up, Gov. Abbott.

‘Pro-birth’ policy must go

Kate Cox well might be forced to do something no sane human being should insist she do: give birth to a baby who is doomed to die.

The Dallas resident is trying to end a pregnancy she knows will end tragically. Her unborn daughter cannot live outside her mother’s womb for more than a few days. However, the abomination of a Texas law is requiring her to give birth because the law doesn’t cover the health of the infant as an exemption to its restrictions on abortion.

One court ruled in Cox’s favor. The Texas Supreme Court overruled the lower court and issued a temporary hold on the ruling.

The so-called “pro-life” movement has shown itself to be a “pro-birth” movement intent on making women who know their child will not survive go through the agony of giving birth only to watch their child die.

Here’s an idea for Gov. Greg Abbott to consider: Call a special session but instead of seeking to force private school vouchers on us, he should call legislators back to amend the law that well could force Kate Cox and other women to endure a needless heartache.

Abbott devoted to single issue?

Well … what do you think of this, which is that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has endorsed the re-election of 59 state lawmakers — all of whom have supported his school voucher idea?

Me? I think it stinks. Why? Because legislating on behalf of a state as large, diverse and demanding as this one ought to require a comprehensive approach to governing. Abbott doesn’t see it that way, I guess.

He wants to plunder public education funds, siphon them off to private schools and, in my view, deplete our state’s public schools of the resources they need to provide our children a quality education.

If you don’t see it his way, according to the governor, why, you just don’t deserve to be re-elected to the Texas Legislature.

What a pile of dog-dookie!

Vouchers torpedoed by GOP lawmakers

How ’bout them rural Republican Texas legislators for standing up for their public school systems?

They have helped torpedo a plan to allow public school money to be funneled away to enable parents to enroll their children in private schools. According to the Texas Tribune: The House voted 84-63 in favor of an amendment offered by Rep. John Raney, R-College Station, which removed the provision of the bill allowing some parents to use tax dollars to send their children to private and religious schools. Twenty-one Republicans, most of whom represent rural districts, joined all Democrats in support.

Texas House votes to remove school vouchers from massive education bill | The Texas Tribune

Is this a major embarrassment to Gov. Greg Abbott, who keeps calling legislators back into special session to enact his top priority? You bet it is.

My hope is that Abbott will surrender on this approach that he deems so vital.

The GOP lawmakers understand something fundamental about the role that public school systems play in their district. Which is that the schools are the heart and soul of their districts. Why damage or destroy them by taking money away? They won’t go there. Nor should they!

Pete Laney of Hale Center is the most recent Democrat to serve as speaker of the House. Laney always said that he wanted to let “the will of the House” determine the flow of legislation. One of his successors, Republican Speaker Dade Phelan of Beaumont, is following that lead.

The will of the House has spoken on behalf of our public education system.

Support public education … not deplete it!

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called the Legislature back to work for its third special session this year, aiming to enact a law that allows Texans to divert their property taxes into private school systems.

Gov. Abbott can count me out!

I happen to want the Legislature to put more money into public education, not deplete its revenue stream by allowing Texans to purchase vouchers to spend on their kids’ education.

I am willing to concede that public education in Texas isn’t doing all it can do to provide our children with the best education possible. I see the test results and I am acutely aware that Texas students’ perform below the national averages on almost all educational disciplines. Much of that is cultural, some of it is economic.

It’s also because Texas public educators likely do not believe they have the support of the men and women in power who have it within their power to give teachers and administrators all the support they deserve.

Dammit to hell, anyway! Texas public education deserves better than it is getting from the state and, in some instances, from local school boards whose members have been bitten by the “anti-woke” bug. Public educators have found themselves distracted by pressure to ban books or to teach students only a “certain way” that adheres to some right-wing ideology.

I hate the notion of public education being kicked around like the proverbial political football. That is what is happening with the governor and legislators getting set to fast-track Texans away from public education.

As a believer in spending public money on public education, my sincere hope is that we can do more within government to improve the education we provide our children.

School choice next up for debate

There is something profoundly counterintuitive about asking people to pull their money out of public education and using that money to pay for others to enroll their children in private schools.

That, however, is what Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants the Legislature to do when it meets in a special session next month. I cannot think of a more harebrained idea than this.

Those of us who ardent supporters of public education are going to fight this notion. It turns out that Democratic legislators along with their rural Republican colleagues oppose this idea. For the life of me I don’t understand why the state is seeking to cripple public education in this manner.

I read recently where the Amarillo Independent School District is losing students to private schools already. Texas funds its public school system based on enrollment, so now the state wants to accelerate that decline by giving parents taxpayer money to pull their children out of public schools and enrolling them in private institutions?

I don’t get it.

“There’s an easy way to get it done, and there’s a hard way,” Abbott said on a tele-town hall about the issue. “We will take it either way — in a special session or after an election.”

Abbott says special session on school choice coming in October | The Texas Tribune

That sounds like an ultimatum to me.

Public education is an investment I happen to be willing to make. That the governor would want Texas to make it easier to injure the public school systems in the state is an utterly astonishing policy decision.

Why do I care about these matters?

It’s time to come clean on something, which is part of this journey I have been traveling since I first started collecting Social Security retirement benefits.

It deals with the current dispute in the Texas Legislature over how to reduce property taxes. I haven’t followed the issue as closely as, say, some members of my family. Why not? Because the state of Texas does an extremely good job of protecting us old folks from the pressures of paying increasing property taxes.

You see, we have these homestead exemptions and senior exemptions that freeze our property taxes.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about how local governments are spending my tax money. I do watch the Princeton Independent School District, the City of Princeton, Collin County and Collin College spending issues carefully. I don’t want the taxes I pay to be wasted on frivolous expenditures.

It’s the debate over the amount I pay that slides past me.

Legislators are bickering among themselves over how to cut property taxes. So are Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and Gov. Greg Abbott. They’re sniping among themselves over which plan is suitable. Gov. Abbott says he’ll keep calling lawmakers back to special sessions for as long as it takes to get his way on the issue.

Meanwhile, he’s vetoing legislation that does affect me and my fellow Texans to force legislators to see it his way. That’s not a good look, governor.

I’ll just let ’em keep bickering over property tax reform. I have no particular opinion on which plan works best for me. I’m an old guy. The Legislature already has solved the issue for me.

johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com