Thursday, June 12, 2008

Dewhurst breaks major policy ground in speech

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst decided to give a policy speech to delegates at the Republican State Convention. Dewhurst called for passage of a constitutional amendment tightening the constitutional spending limit. He proposed limiting the increases in government spending to inflation and population growth, excepting federal mandates. (Perry mentioned this item in his speech as well.)

Dewhurst brought the house down with his attacks on the Texas Department of Transportation and the Trans-Texas Corridor. "For the last four years we've provided TxDOT $42 billion in cash and bond money. TxDOT needs to build roads, reduce congestion and stop making excuses!" Dewhurst said.

And the Trans-Texas Corridor? Folks, you can't build toll roads in rual Texas! For Heaven's sake -- don't mess with Texas private property rights!" Dewhurst added.

Dewhurst also called for either lowering the revenue cap on local government or putting a cap on increased property tax revenue. He also said he wants to look for alternatives to property tax funding and he said he wants to take a serious look at the margin tax next session.

Not surprisingly, Dewhurst's desire to pass a bill requiring picture identification to vote got prominent mention in the speech. (The question many have is what is more important to the Lieutenant Governor: passing the voter identification bill or the Senate's tradition requiring a two-thirds vote before bills are considered.)

For the most part, the speech was well-received. Dewhurst did get razzed by the crowd a bit when he suggested putting fingerprints and citizenship status on the magnetic strip on the back of a drivers' license. But his core points were well received and provide an interesting preview of his agenda for next session.

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