Gregg-Abbott-Post-Fi3

Who’s advising Abbott on budget, policy stuff? John Colyandro, for one

More than a year ago, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, the Republican heir apparent for governor, started posting policy positions on his website and rolling out parts of his policy agenda in speeches. Who was helping him? To assist in shaping his budget and other policies, Abbott hired a policy staff of four full-time employees. He also looked for outside advice, from staunch conservatives such as John Colyandro.Colyandro is a familiar face at the Texas Capitol. He is executive director of both the Texas Conservative Coalition
and its think tank, the Texas Conservative Coalition Research InstituteHe is famous, or infamous, as the one-time Tom DeLay aide who, a couple of years ago, pleaded guilty to two Class A misdemeanors of accepting illegal political contributions during the 2002 legislative elections that finally tipped control of the Texas House to the GOP. He was fined $8,000 and given one-year deferred adjudication, meaning he’d have no permanent record if he successfully completed unsupervised probation. Earlier this year, the related conviction of DeLay, the former U.S. House majority leader, was overturned on appeal.As Abbott prepares to take over from fellow Republican Rick Perry in January, I and others have been looking more closely at Abbott’s campaign website page that has links to his various position papers.
In Sunday’s paper, I wrote this story about Abbott’s spending plans and assorted proposals to restructure Texas budget-making. The print editions, though not the online ones, carried a graphic giving greater details. I’ve reproduced that below.Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch, asked if he would identify others beside Colyandro who helped shape Abbott’s issue stances, replied there are “none anyone would recognize.” In the fullness of time, perhaps, we’ll learn who the four policy staffers were.
Here is the graphic that ran beside my story in Sunday’s newspaper:Abbott’s fiscal medicine
Gov.-elect Greg Abbott has proposed $1.3 billion in new spending over the next two years – plus a rash of measures to curb growth in state spending. Among the Republican’s proposed increases:
$363 million in relief for state universities, by having the state pay for giving veterans free tuition and fees (currently, the cost is passed on to other students in the form of higher tuition).
$299 million to secure the Texas-Mexico border.
$182 million for improvements to prekindergarten programs and reading and math instruction in the early elementary grades.
$105 million to retain personal care attendants for the enfeebled.
$164 million for digital instruction in public schools.
$60 million for women’s health care.
$15 million to reimburse local governments that encourage hiring of veterans by reducing commercial property appraisals by $15,000 per hire.
$9 million to increase residency positions for doctors in training.
$4 million to provide free “active shooter response training” for school marshals, school district security officers and campus policeAmong the structural changes to budget writing Abbott wants are:
Diversions: Ending the use of highway fund money for items other than transportation. He would keep paying for state troopers out of it, though, and that’s the largest single diversion.
Highway funds: Amending the state constitution to dedicate to roads as much as two-thirds of the $4.1 billion a year generated by sales taxes on cars and pickups.
Reductions: Allowing the governor to cut amounts appropriated by the Legislature in the two-year budget.Spending limit: Changing the state constitution to set inflation and population growth as the new state spending limit. Abbott would also require a vote of two-thirds of both the House and Senate to exceed the cap. Currently, a simple majority suffices.
Rainy-day limits Narrowing the allowed uses of rainy-day dollars to covering revenue shortfalls in the current budget cycle, debt retirement, one-time infrastructure projects and disaster-related expenses.
State fees: Passing a constitutional amendment to end hoarding of special-purposes fees, which currently allows about $4 billion more of spending than the Texas Constitution’s pay-as-you-go provisions otherwise would permit.SOURCES: Abbott campaign website,
Dallas Morning News research.

More News

Redefining Political Discourse in Texas with John Colyandro Part 1

As we enter into the session’s turbulent events, from internal party conflicts to high-profile trials, John Colyandro provides unique insights into the political process.

In this two-part conversation, discover how misinformation and social media play a role in shaping public opinion and why it’s crucial to base political discussions on facts. We explore the controversial topic of school choice and debunk some common misconceptions while shedding light on the challenges faced by special needs students in both public and private education.

Read More »

Texas wants to be a leader in CCUS, but there’s an ownership question to resolve first

Texas is one of the largest emitting states in the US and stands to become ground zero of the carbon management industry. But unlike other states, Texas law provides no clarity on ownership rights of pore space — the empty underground cavities where companies can pump and permanently store captured CO2. While surface rights and mineral rights are crystal clear, Texas hasn’t defined who owns those underground pore spaces.

Carbon Neutral Coalition Executive Director John Colyandro joined S&P Global reporter Brandon Mulder on the podcast to share his insights on the issues surrounding pore space ownership, how it could be holding back the industry, and ways it could be resolved in the upcoming legislative session.

Stick around after the interview for Jeff Mower with the Market Minute, a look at near-term oil market drivers.

Read More »