Rick Perry vs. the World *
Tracking the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race.
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Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Perry, process, HB3, and the dustup in El Paso
Remember the dustup in El Paso where Senator Hutchison and some El Paso leaders had a bit of a spat when they told her to stay in the Senate?

According to El Paso News' Gary Scharrer's column, the same folks lobbied El Paso legislators to support the school finance bills, HB2 and HB3. Those folks support Perry -- who needs to results on the school finance front -- and they also don't want El Paso's legislators to do anything that endangers appropriations for a medical school in El Paso.

Perry is playing an interesting game with the school finance bills. Generally in the past Perry has avoided discussing the legislative "process." With the school finance bills, Perry is suddenly very interested in talking process. He acknowledged that the House bills were imperfect, but he sent out an email urging his supporters to help the process along.

Perhaps Perry is learning from the unsuccessful special session he called on school finance last year:
Perry blew apart last year's special session when he called a news conference and declared a key House revenue proposal -- a tax on employee compensation -- to be an unacceptable hindrance to job creation. Then Craddick and the House simply gave up.

When the House re-introduced the same idea this year, Perry refrained from criticizing it. An employee compensation tax is part of House Bill 3, the revenue bill that is intended to cut local school property taxes and balance that loss with money from new taxes.

Perry even met privately with the House Republican Caucus on Thursday, helping members to refine HB 3. When asked in recent weeks for his thoughts on the House proposals, he has said only that initial bills usually change as the legislative session moves forward.
(Cite: Mike Norman in FWST)
Last year Perry labelled as deal breakers such things as the payroll tax included in HB3.

Rumor is that Perry is telling Capitol insiders that the payroll tax will be removed in the Senate. Perhaps some gambling will make it into the bill at some point to cover a revenue gap.

Unlike last year, Perry is trying to move the process and get people voting for school finance changes. Eventually, Perry hopes that he, Lt Gov Dewhurst and Speaker Craddick can stike a deal when both the Senate and House have passed different school finance bills. Perry's hope is that legislators will feel obliged to vote for the school finance compromise, since they voted for their chamber's original version.

If there's gambling in the bill, it'll be tough to get through the House, where the GOP caucus isn't fond of any sort of gambling. Meanwhile, Perry has to be careful because Hutchison has outflanked him to the right on gambling. He doesn't want to lose his conservative support in a primary against KBH.

It'll be fun to see the campaign to cajole hesitant legislators into supporting the final school finance bill. When the compromise comes down between the House and Senate bills with something that Governor Perry finds palatable, there will be things to like and dislike from everyone's perspective. Dewhurst, Craddick and particularly Perry (who needs it most politically) will be playing power politics in order to get the bill passed. For example, Perry's aide strongly denied that they were behind the pressure applied to the El Paso legislators over the medical school. They probably weren't, at this stage of the game. But all cards will be on the table when they're trying to pass the final school finance package.

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