The Austin Chronicle

Who'll Guide the Sunset?

By Richard Whittaker, October 17, 2007, 11:50am, Newsdesk

Everyone forgets the Sunset Advisory Commission, the busy little 12-person body of five senators, five state reps and two public members that makes recommendations on what changes need to be made to what agencies for the next session. This could also be one of the most important commissions in years, since the Texas Department of Agriculture, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Youth Commission all up for review.

Last week, Speaker Tom Craddick made his two appointments, with Rep. Carl Isett, R-Lubbock, and Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, replacing the outgoing Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, and Byron Cook, R-Corsicana. Isett also gets to become chair, replacing Sen. Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth, who remains on the commission. So that's two GOPers out, two in, but there's the question of who will replace Senate appointees Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, and John Whitmire, D-Houston. If it follows the pattern, then it should be a pair of Democrats. Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, D-McAllen has made no secret of the fact he wants to be there to help further shepherd further reforms to TYC.

The loss of Shapleigh could change the tone of the commission, because he's always been a savage opponent of the "slice to the bone" school of budget cuts. However, last session in the House Appropriations Committee, even the notoriously "no tax, no spend" Isett was publicly concerned about how underfunded many agencies, especially Parks and Wildlife, had become.

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