Amid Unprecedented Rancor, Texas Special Session Begins Today


Texas lawmakers who were hoping to hit the reset button and return to a civil debate during today's start of the special session are out of luck, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

Ever since the end of the regular session, the leaders in both the state House and Senate have been sniping back and forth.  

The loudest shots came at a press conference, put on by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick last week, which was billed as an announcement to lay out his priorities when it came to education.  The details were slim, while the criticism of his counterpart in the House was dripping.

Upset at a lack of compromise from Speaker Joe Straus (R-Alamo Heights), Lt. Gov. Patrick suggested that his foe was laying the groundwork for a state income tax.

"Where do you get billions more for education? The only way to do it is a state income tax," he told reporters.  "I will not join the speaker in laying the groundwork."

When contacted by 1200 WOAI news, a spokesman for Speaker Straus flatly denied the accusation.

"That is not true," he said in a written statement.

The sniping came to a head yesterday when Gov. Greg Abbott, speaking to the Texas Public Policy Foundation, announced he would be keeping a list of lawmakers who disagreed with his priorities.

"We all need to establish lists that we publish on a daily basis to call people out... who is for this, who is against this, who has not taken a position yet," he told the crowd.  "No one gets to hide."

San Antonio State Senator Jose Menendez says it's not getting anything accomplished.

"I'm a little dismayed by the tone so far," he said. "I hope that things get better. I hope that this is just political posturing."

While divisive topics such as the so-called transgender bathroom bill dominate the governor's call for the special session, there's growing hope that education finance reform can at least be debated.  Sen. Menendez says, unlike most of the issues, that one affects most Texans.