Last December, I packed up my California home and headed to Texas. I was sick of living with a legislature that couldn’t do anything conservative or fiscally reasonable if our lives depended on it.
I wasn’t the only one who left searching for fiscal sanity.
In fact, so many other Californians have made the same decision that t-shirts, bumper stickers, and billboards in the Lone Star state warn, “Don’t California My Texas.” I took that as a humorous way of telling us California imports to leave our liberal values behind.
Turns out, Texans are doing a fine job liberalizing the state on their own.
As a newly-minted Texan, I was surprised that native born Texans supported Beto O’Rourke for Senate at a higher rate than California transplants.
More recently, I was shocked to see the Texas legislature — with a supermajority of Republicans led by one-time conservative champions Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Gov. Greg Abbott — behaving pretty much like my old state’s legislature, which is controlled by a supermajority of Democrats.
For starters, they massively bloated the state budget with a 13.5 percent increase, and are draining the state’s “rainy day fund” to do it.
They passed a huge teacher pay increase of $5,000 per teacher. That will cost $2 billion over the course of just one year, but of course, it will never last for just one year. Or two, or even 15. (What politician is going to propose lowering teacher salaries?) Texas will pay an additional $2 billion per year, forever, adjusted up every year for inflation.
What would be different if my old California Democrats ran the Texas legislature? Anyone who believes this initiative will purchase goodwill from teachers unions towards Republicans might need to go back to school. The unions will use the extra money to remove Republicans from elected office.
And speaking of unions, why is Texas helping them to collect membership dues from the paychecks of our public employees — money they’ll also use to try to vote Republicans out of office? Are Texas taxpayers supposed to subsidize the unions’ efforts to harass hard-working laborers, just like I witnessed in California? Even in very purple Wisconsin and many other states (like my new neighbor, Oklahoma), Republican leaders made their government stop acting as a collection agency for public sector unions.
Yet Texas Republican leaders and their supermajority of legislators don’t have enough political courage to stop our supposedly “red” state from collecting union dues and handing them over to union leaders who oppose every Republican policy.
Already-high property taxes — which are more than twice the rates paid by Californians — are skyrocketing, thanks to out of control local municipalities, school districts, fire districts, water districts, and on and on. Virtually every politician who ran with an “R” by his or her name promised property tax reform and relief. That means our Republican leaders are all over it, right?
Think again. They have gutted property tax reform this session. Even the “conservative” Freedom Caucus voted to gut the only reform initiative which, if it were to pass would still pale in comparison to property tax advantages in California.
Finally, what are Republican leaders doing about the forced “paid leave” radical socialists from outside Texas are trying to impose on every employer in Texas’ major cities? The legislature has a bill that would preempt these anti-business efforts, but Texas Republicans who control both Houses cannot muster the votes to pass it.
Any Republican who just moved to Texas has to ask, “What in the hell is going on?” It’s as if California Democrats have infiltrated the Republican Party of Texas and convinced RPT leaders that the very best thing they can do to appeal to their base in 2020 is act like California Democrats.
Here’s what’s obvious to every Californian who now lives in Texas; if you want to depress your base and lose the state to progressives who will change your culture, avoid bold action.
If Texas’s Republican leaders don’t use their legislative supermajority, they’re going to lose the state to Democrats in 2020, and Republicans across the country are going to lose the nation.
The question for Texas Republicans should be whether any conservatives are left in Texas government. Because from my experience, our leaders seem better suited for California.