Laubenberg the Low-Spender
Empower Texans release Fiscal Responsibility Index to put percentages on conservatism
By Richard Whittaker,
4:40PM, Wed. Jun. 10, 2009
Big plaudits today for local legislators Sens. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, and Kirk Watson, D-Austin, as well as Reps. Elliott Naishtat and Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, for being judged amongst the least conservative-pandering members of the Texas Legislature. These honors were bestowed today by Empower Texans and (whisper, whisper, whisper.) Oh, sorry, that's not supposed to be a compliment.
The anti-government-spending sticklers have released their Fiscal Responsibility Index, which attempts to rank House and Senate members on the basis of votes on a hand-picked set of bills. Apparently, the House is 56.49% conservative versus a paltry 47.69% for the Senate, for an overall total of a 52.13% conservative legislature (the rest is mainly dietary fiber and natural sweeteners, Newsdesk presumes. Oh, and a sensible approach to service provision and an equitable tax base.)
Their highest plaudit of Taxpayer Champion goes to 100 percenters like Rockwell Republican Rep. Jodie Laubenberg , so much so that they encourage people to write her and her ilk a letter of appreciation ("Dear Jodie, thank you for wrecking CHIP expansion.")
Unsurprisingly, even the most conservative House Democrat (Rep. Stephen Frost, D-New Boston, 50%) is less conservative than the least Conservative Republican (House Appropriations Chair Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, 53%. See, Jim, that's what you get for admitting that Texas has economic problems.)
The model isn't quite the same in the Senate: While Republicans dominate the "most conservative" end of the schedule, the mid-ground is much more of a melting pot.
There are few kind words in the report for the Speaker Joe Straus-backing Gang of 11 (the highest scorer was Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, with a paltry 80.) Why's that unsurprising? Because Empower Texans is based in Midland, home to former speaker Rep. Tom Craddick, and its PAC has a long history of dumping cash into the campaigns of Craddick-friendly candidates around the state.