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sive legislators are tired of the conservative caucus and envy its successes in the past few sessions. While the progressive group has not set its legislative program yet, Bailey thinks it can make a difference at least in protecting education reforms. GOVERNOR-ELECT BUSH has said he will concentrate on four issues: criminal justice, welfare, lawsuits and schools. They are good issues for a governor to concentrate on, because they involve taking money or power away from people who are despised by the general public. So Bush called for restoring “individual responsibility,” at least when it comes to people involved in criminal justice and welfare programs. On juvenile justice, some lawmakers alarmed at the 182-percent increase in violent crime by youth from 1983 to 1993 have responded by filing bills that would allow 14-year-old youths to be treated as adults, expand the list of crimes for which kids could be sent away for up to 40 years, open juvenile court records and expand Texas Youth Commission facilities. The Legislature will rewrite the Family Code after a Joint Interim Committee on the Family Code recommended changes in the state’s divorce and custody laws; tougher penalties for juvenile offenders and authorizing counties to institute teen curfews. The money it will cost to lock up more juveniles for longer sentences likely will have to come from a billion-dollar wish list presented by the Texas Commission on Children and Youth, another blue-ribbon panel that found, after an exhaustive study, that thousands of Texas children were in need of basic health, nutrition, drug treatment and psychiatric services that could keep them from becoming adult criminals. On lawsuit “reform,” Bush is singing off the same page as the business interests who helped Republicans Drew Nixon, Michael Galloway and Tom Haywood upset Democrats in Senate races. With the support of Bullock, they are pushing for limits on punitive damages against corporations in civil lawsuits, an overhaul of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, restrictions on forum shopping and reforms of “joint and several liability” and medical malpractice lawsuits. Other business groups also want to pile on with provisions to make it harder to collect damages when a plaintiff shares responsibility for the injury, limits on contributions to judicial candidates to prevent conflicts of interest and limits on contingency fees to trial lawyers, which would prevent poor people from getting lawyers, as it has in workers’ compensation cases. The Legislature also is expected to rewrite the Texas Education Code, which offers the opportunity for much mischief 10 years after the landmark education reforms of House Bill 72. Bush has stated he wants to decentralize education, increase the state’s share of local education costs and he supports the efforts of some legislators to help parents pay to send their children to private schools. Some would go so far as to abolish the Texas Education Agency. When the Texas Supreme Court let the New Year arrive without ruling on the constitutionality of the current school financing plan, it was seen as a good sign for the wealthier school districts, as conservatives picked up a vote on the court with the swearing in of Priscilla Owen, a former corporate lawyer in Houston. She replaces Lloyd Doggett, who went from the progressive minority on the court to a back bench in Congress. That leaves the court with a Republican majority and a couple conservative Democratic votes to spare on most issues. Bush is promoting a welfare overhaul that would end benefits after two years for women who can work, deny benefits for women who have more than two children and require mothers on welfare to identify the father of each child. But don’t expect much savings, even from those penurious actions. The Texas Department of Human Services had a $3.2 billion budget this past year. AFDC, the main welfare program, accounts for $603 million, with $382 million of that coming from the federal government. A single Texas mother with two chilgets only $184 in AFDC and $292 worth of food stamps every month, in addition to Medicaid health insurance. Bush also said there is some merit to the idea of placing children of unwed mothers in orphanages, although the Dallas Morning News on December 27 quoted an analyst with the conservative American Enterprise Institute who estimated that it would cost $72,000 annually to put the average welfare family’s children in an orphanage, compared with about $15,000 in current per-family costs for cash, food stamps, Medicaid, housing and all other services. THE NEW GOVERNOR won’t have to spend much time on a bill he favors that would allow white suburban Dirty Harry wannabes to carry concealed handguns. That bill is expected to sail through the Legislature so quickly the only question is how lawmakers will manage to keep innercity youths from legally packing heat as well. Maybe the proposed $150 registration fee and instruction costs will act as a deterrent. Meanwhile, spokespeople for Handgun Control Inc., a non-profit group lobbying for stricter handgun controls, notes that Florida, which has allowed concealed weapons since 1987, had the highest rate of violent crime of any state in 1992. When it comes to the state budget, lawmakers will be pleased to discover that sales tax collections are up, as are motor vehicle tax collections and proceeds from the state lottery. They are expected to have an extra $4.3 billion to spend during the next two years over the $71 billion budget they appropriated for the past biennium. The only problem is that they will need $6.3 billion to pay for education, health and human services and prisons. Bush has called for increasing the state’s share of public school funding from the current 45 percent, as property taxes pick up the remaining 55 percent. He also proposes to build more prison facilities on top of the 150,000 beds that will be on line within a year. And the legislative panel studying the Family Code has recommended more than doubling the TYC from 2,100 beds now to 4,500 beds within four years; other suggestions include expanding county detention centers, boot camps for first-time and nonviolent offenders, adding juvenile probation officers and strengthening drug and alcohol abuse programs. The Legislature will have to consider ways to control the rising cost of Medicaid, which has seen a 20-percent increase in demand for services in Texas over the past year, after Congress during the adminstration of the senior George H.W. Bush expanded eligibility. State costs for the program have escalated by $8.3 billion since 1990 and accounted for 26 percent of the state’s budget. E VENTS IN CONGRESS may set the tone for what happens in the Texas Legislature. Gingrich and Armey promise votes on most, if not all, of their Contract with America during the first 100 days of the 104th Congress, so the American public will get a taste of some of the radical changes the Republicans have in store. That may produce a reaction in the Texas statehouse. In the meantime, some progressive lobbyists will make an effort to work with the Bush Administration. Texas AFL-CIO officials plan to meet with Bush, and Ed Sills, a spokesman for the labor federation, said their attitude is that everybody deserves a chance to show good faith. “We’ve been through this with administrations headed by much more venal and unsophisticated people than this one,” Tom Smith of Public Citizen said. “They’re pros. That’s one of the hallmarks of this Bush Administration. He’s brought in people who know about Texas politics and Texas government. They’re not members of the radical right. They may be good ol’ boys but they don’t have bloody hatchets.” That was little comfort to another progressive lobbyist. “I think they’ll be more sophisticated and professional in terms of doing damage, but I don’t know how that does us any good.” JC JANUARY 13, 1995