This Week in Texas Politics: Ken Paxton acquittal

The top stories This Week in Texas Politics went from political fatigue to political posturing. 

FOX 7 Austin's Rudy Koski caught up with political experts to discuss in This Week in Texas Politics.

RUDY KOSKI: Let’s get the headlines from our panel. Patrick Svitek with the Texas Tribune, what’s your headline?

PATRICK SVITEK: Paxton Acquitted. 

RUDY KOSKI: Holly Hansen with the Texas News. Holly, what's your headline for the week?

HOLLY HANSEN: Paxton Goes Nuclear. 

RUDY KOSKI: And Mark, it can't be Paxton Can it be? What's your headline for the week? 

MARK WIGGINS: I’m continuing the theme; the atomic acquittal plunges the legislature into a nuclear winter. 

RUDY KOSKI: Mark Wiggins, our political analyst.  The stories that I noticed for this week. The Ken Paxton trial. It will be a political October fest, the governor said that that's when school choice the special session will happen. A new School funding fight sparked by Spring Branch ISD. Harris County Library System has declared itself a book sanctuary for title too racey for school libraries. The athletic director for TCU went to Congress fo a hearing on college sport' new pay for play NIL system. And another major migrant border surge has hit South Texas. 

Mark, we're going to start with you, the Paxton acquittal is already impacting the special session that's set to happen in October. This is going to get ugly, isn't it? 

MARK WIGGINS: Rudy It's hard to overstate how deeply the acquittal has damaged relations to the extent they were to begin with between the House and the Senate. The votes haven't changed on this issue, and now it's just hard to see the House passing anything that starts with an S.B. 

HOLLY HANSEN: Well, I think, you know, we saw this these frictions exploding into the public this past week started with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick calling out to the House and the House managers, Paxton vowing to help primaries just about anybody in the state, including possibly Senator John Cornyn. You know, it's interesting to see the infighting, but that's pretty typical when you have one party control statewide. 

PATRICK SVITEK: But big picture, it doesn't seem like there's been a sea change on this in terms of the math in the House. And these tensions between the two chambers, you know, only make it more difficult. 

RUDY KOSKI: What do you think, Mark? I thought school choice was going to be DOA, but I don't know now. 

MARK WIGGINS: I think it's DOA. I think it's double DOA after the acquittal, you know, on the school funding issue, I mean, schools are running out of money, Rudy, because the funding that they need is being held hostage. 

RUDY KOSKI: Let's talk about that, this new dynamic. Spring Branch ISD leading this charge with school districts suing the state over how the state is holding up the rankings. And everyone thinks that this really is about school choice. Holly, you wrote about this. What do you think? 

HOLLY HANSEN: Yes, I think Spring Branch is timing on this and the other districts that are jumping on board there are is a little bit suspect. The recapture payments that they're talking about have been falling a Spring Branch ISD's recapture payment fell from $63 million last year to 20.8 million and in the following year will drop to another 1.8 million. So it is on the decline. I think it is more of an attempt to draw attention to the school finance issue.


PATRICK SVITEK: It's going to be about multiple education issues, you know, much to the ire of public education advocates. Governor Abbott is probably going to tie them all to school vouchers, but we are going to have a broader debate than just school vouchers, of course. 

RUDY KOSKI: And if it is a broader debate, what is that debate going to be? Because we've got a migrant surge down on the border, people saying, hey, we need the legislation that died in the regular session to come back and a lot of other things. So. Mark, do you think the special session will include other items like new border language legislation or do we come back and do another one on the border. 

MARK WIGGINS: So, it's possible he could add other things to try and still be able to claim a win out of the special session. But it would still have to be something that could pass both chambers. And even on the border, that's still going to be a tall order, I think. 

HOLLY HANSEN: I do think his preference would be to stick to that school choice issue. He seems to have latched on to this strategy of single issue special sessions, and that was pretty effective over the summer. 

RUDY KOSKI: Mark, the House majority in Congress, they've been focused on trying just to get a budget out. Do you think they are noticing what's happening down at the border? Can they do anything? Can they interject or are we just going to have a government shutdown. 

MARK WIGGINS: At a certain point, to us nerds, it gets kind of like, oh, another government shutdown. But I mean, this, these things have real consequences and they're never good for anyone. 

HOLLY HANSEN: They're probably better off trying to work with the deals they've already made on the debt ceiling and so forth, and trying to work within the parameters they've already set. 

Early Friday a political flip took place. The Mayor of Dallas, Eric Johnson, announced he is switching political parties and will now be a Republican. Johnson made his announcement in a Wall Street Journal Op/Ed. 

When he served in the Texas Legislature, as a Democrat, Johnson was instrumental in getting a historically inaccurate confederate memorial plaque removed from a wall next to the Rotunda. His Friday Party jump did not surprise some analysts who noted his efforts to fund public safety and cut salaries at city hall. Johnson’s move caps off a week of political maneuvering.

RUDY KOSKI: All right. Let's sum up this week with one word, and we'll start first with Patrick. Patrick, what's your word for the week? 


RUDY KOSKI: Mark Wiggins, what's your word for the week? 


RUDY KOSKI: And Holly Hansen, I'll give you the last word in this. With your final word for the week? 

HOLLY HANSEN: Repercussions. 

RUDY KOSKI: Right and that wraps up another week in Texas politics.