Perry gets session benefits; will lawmakers pay the price?

SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson talks about how voters may react to the recently completed regular session of the Texas Legislature and the various cuts it made.

By Peggy Fikac

AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry got just about everything he wanted from the Texas Legislature.

Passage of most of the items he declared to be legislative emergencies, including a law requiring women to have a sonogram before having an abortion.

A budget plan that doesn't raise state taxes and leaves most of Texas' savings account untouched.

The sway that goes along with getting his way as the conservatives' conservative, burnishing his national profile and (some hope) helping propel him into a race for the White House.

While he reaps the rewards, however, the lawmakers who made it possible are the ones who'll pay the political price next year if they misjudged voters' appetite for cuts. . .

“I think voters across the board are going to feel these changes” in education and health care, political science professor Cal Jillson of Southern Methodist University said. “The question is, cumulatively, are these vote drivers? That remains to be seen.”

Jillson said 2012, as a presidential election year with Barack Obama up for re-election, will see a different mix of voters than those who elected the Texas House supermajority in 2010.

“It will change the dynamic,” he said. “Particularly in the Texas House, which is where I think you'll see the impact, Democrats will be running on damage done with these cuts in an electoral cycle where they can expect higher turnout, especially from minorities and young people. I believe there will be Democratic pickups from the Texas House in 2012.”

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