Tempers flared Saturday on the Legislature’s last weekend with a key GOP senator declaring that the session’s central theme is “lack of leadership” by top members of his own party.The local option tax had already gone down to defeat once before in the session and Carona and others tried to revive it by attacking it to a Texdot sunset bill. When it was stripped from that too, it became clear that any bill to raise taxes while the country is in a recession was not politically viable. He may claim the leadership let him down, but leaders are politicians who can read polling too.
“If you look at this session, you’ve got two underlying problems: One is simply the lack of leadership in the top offices and the second is the lack of any clear, compelling agenda,” said Senate Transportation and Homeland Security Chairman John Carona, R-Dallas.
His angst was triggered by the evident demise of a proposal to allow urban areas to raise gasoline taxes and some fees in their areas to pay for local transportation projects.
But the bickering about the bill has been emblematic of a string of sparring episodes that have played out over the last few weeks as lawmakers have struggled with successes and losses on controversial public issues.
The gas tax proposal was stripped Saturday from a compromise bill to overhaul the Texas Department of Transportation, which was among several important measures hanging as the session neared its Monday finale.
Perhaps some of the legislators remember how the Houston transit sales tax wound up being used to help the city balance its budget as other items including road improvements were paid for by a tax that was suppose to pay for busses and other direct trasit expenses.