The action at the state Capitol on the first day of the 2017 legislative session was noteworthy mainly for what did not happen. There was literally no opposition to the re-election of House Speaker Joe Straus, who accordingly won 150 out of 150 votes.
The meaning of the Straus re-election was apparent in his ensuing remarks, which contrasted mightily with the strident, extremist agenda previously announced by the Senate’s presiding officer, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Straus said good stewardship of taxpayer resources requires smart spending to support more than five million schoolchildren in “great local schools” that are “the backbone of this state” and “the heart of many communities.” He said the school-finance system is broken and told House members it is “our job to fix it.” He added that “educators and legislators should aspire to be partners and not adversaries.”
“Compromise is a good word in this House,” Straus pointedly observed, and he cited with approval a comment from the first President Bush dating back to his vote in Congress for a civil-rights bill in 1968. Then-Congressman Bush recalled a critic who “couldn’t have been meaner and uglier, but it just made me that much more determined to do what is right.”