Today, the eve of the 2011 legislative session, is apparently a day to highlight Texas’ shortcomings. Here’s what’s happening, and my predictions:
Human Shortcomings: The sentencing phase of Tom DeLay‘s trial begins today. I predict he will see little or no jail time. Then again, I was frankly very surprised he was convicted, so what do I know?
Financial Shortcomings: Today’s the day that state comptroller Susan Combs gives the forecast of the amount of available revenue she predicts for the next two years. Some Capitol-watchers expect the resulting shortfall to be in the $23-25 billion dollar range. I predict her revenue forecast will be a bit more optimistic than that, and that budget writers will be pleasantly surprised. In other words, they may only be completely screwing only a (high) fraction of the Texans previously scheduled to be completely screwed. My wild guess on the resulting shortfall: $14-17 billion. My related prediction: Republicans will play a numbers game for the rest of the week, arguing that it’s not really a shortfall at all, as they continue talking about trimming all the fat from a budget that is already 50th in the nation in per capita spending.
Support Shortcomings: Today’s the day the House Republican Caucus meets. State Representatives Warren Chisum and Ken Paxton, who are both running for Speaker against Joe Straus, have been pushing for this meeting all along, so that Republicans can pick a speaker without Democratic support. In a related story, this is also the meeting at which Warren Chisum and Ken Paxton learn an important lesson, when they get exactly what they asked for, in such a way as to make them wish they’d never asked: Straus will emerge with the support, under the process his opponents pushed for. Chisum and Paxton will each claim a moral victory, in forcing the Republican Caucus to express support before Democrats weigh in. They will then take their seats on the powerful House Committee on Arts and Crafts, where they will do most of the heavy lifting on coloring, cutting, and pasting for the duration of the legislative session. Conservative astroturf organizations which have been insulting Straus for weeks will quickly begin pretending it never happened.
Discuss amongst yourselves in the comments section.
Update #1: the Comptroller’s revenue estimate points to a $27 Billion shortfall, against current services level funding. My wild guess was way wild off.
Update #2: well, I suck. DeLay got a substantial sentence. Turns out I was wrong on everything except the House Republican Caucus meeting. So, as Whiskeydent charitably said in the comments section, I predict about as well as the local weatherman.