Despite Joe Straus’ lofty language calling for unity in the House Republican Caucus in the wake of the leadership fight, his committee assignments for the 2011 session reflect what some consider a vindictive streak toward those representatives who challenged Straus’ leadership:
“Despite claims there would be no retributions, it’s interesting to note that State Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), who mounted a grassroots’ challenge to Mr. Straus’ speakership, was removed from his long-held position on Ways & Means and placed on hinterland committees chaired by liberals. Same goes for several of his allies.” (Michael Quinn Sulivan)
The Austin American-Statesman has made similar observations:
“Look at some of the speaker’s appointees to [the Urban Affairs] committee: Phil King, Tan Parker, Ken Paxton and David Simpson. Not exactly a collection of his best friends.
One other note: Notice how many members of the Straus inner circle are on the Redistricting Committee. Solomons, Hunter, Keffer, Branch, Geren, Eissler. The speaker will have plenty of avenues to pursue should he want to weigh in here.”
The 2011 committee structure is in some ways an improvement over the 2009 team, but a certain amount of that change was due to the defeat of a number of Straus’ 2009 lieutenants. In other ways–such as the ouster of Ken Paxton from Ways and Means–the new structure is a step backwards.
We ‘ran the numbers’ on Straus’ 2011 Leadership Team by calculating, for each new Chair, the average of the 2009 rating from Empower Texans and the 2009 Economic Rating from Heritage Alliance. We also pulled the 2009 ratings by Young Conservatives of Texas. Here’s what we found:
- Of the top 10% most fiscally-responsible house members, only one (Larry Phillips) received a committee Chairmanships.
- Of the bottom 10% least fiscally-responsible house members, three received committee Chairmanships.
- The average of the 2009 YCT scores for Straus’ new committee Chairs is 53%.
- The average of the 2009 fiscal responsibility ratings for the new Chairs is 57%.
- Only 10% (4) of the 39 new Chairs score above 80% in fiscal responsibility.
- Fully 38% (15) of the 39 new Chairs score below 50% in fiscal responsibility.
- Fifty-six percent (22) of the 39 new Chairs score at or below 70% in fiscal responsibility.
A full breakdown of the ratings of the new Chairs is posted HERE.
Based on these numbers, there is more than a little reason to be concerned that the 82nd Legislature will have more “business as usual” than the recent elections might lead one to believe.