Capital Tonight: Debating the merits of Proposition 6

While lawmakers in Washington took steps to end the government shutdown and avoid a default on debt, many in Texas stayed focused on water issues.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on the latest from Washington, and looked at new information from water experts on where the drought stands.


In part three of our State of Water series, we held a roundtable discussion with critics and supporters of Proposition 6, which would appropriate $2 billion from the state’s Rainy Day Fund into a new fund for water infrastructure projects.


Recent poll numbers show that voters are largely in favor of Proposition 6, but a lot hinges on whether or not they turn out in the first place. We sat down with James Henson of Texas Politics Project to dig deeper into the data.

Congress approves bill to reopen government, avoid default

With fewer than three hours left until a midnight deadline set by the U.S. Treasury Department, lawmakers in both chambers managed to pass a bill to reopen the government and avoid default on America’s debt.

The Senate passed the measure first Wednesday evening, by a vote of 81-18. House lawmakers followed suit a few hours later with a vote of 285-144.

The legislation ends a 16-day government shutdown prompted by Republican-led efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act. Once signed into law, it will keep the government open until Jan. 15 and postpone the next debt ceiling debate until Feb. 7. In one concession to Republican demands, the bill requires income verification for those who receive subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

The president has said he would sign the bill into law as soon as it comes to his desk.

Texas senators among ‘no’ votes on budget deal

Texas’ two U.S. Senators were among Republicans who voted “no” on a deal to end the government shutdown and avoid default. The Senate voted 81-18 Wednesday night on a bipartisan bill that reopens the government until Jan. 15 and raises the debt ceiling through Feb. 7.

As expected, Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz were among lawmakers who opposed the agreement. Speaking on the Senate floor prior to the vote, Sen. Cruz said, “This is a terrible deal today, but it’s a terrible deal for the American people. But at the same time, if the American people continue to rise up, we’re going to turn this around.”

The House is expected to approve the legislation later this evening and President Obama has said he will sign it immediately. The deal will end the 16-day government shutdown.

Abbott releases new online campaign ad

Attorney General Greg Abbott is highlighting recent campaign stops in Galveston County and San Marcos in a new web ad. The online spot features video taken of Abbott last week, visiting workers at a Santa Fe business and meeting students at a tailgate at Texas State University.

“I believe you, your businesses and your future should only be limited only by the size of your dreams, not by the size of your government,” he said. “The truth of the matter is, Texas is exceptional and I’m running for governor to keep it that way.”


Abbott is seeking the GOP nomination for governor. He faces Republican Tom Pauken in the primary and will likely face Democrat Wendy Davis in the general election.

Capital Tonight: Lawmakers dive into political realities of water

There’s a saying in Texas that’s as common as the heat: Whisky is for drinking and water is for fighting. In part two of our State of Water series, we talked to lawmakers about the political realities behind that sentiment.

Republican Sen. Troy Fraser, chair of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources, Democratic Rep. Donna Howard of Austin and Bech Bruun of the newly appointed Texas Water Development Board joined us to talk about property rights, state oversight and more.


Plus, we talked to political strategists Harold Cook and Ted Delisi about the push to get Proposition 6 passed in November. Click the image below to see the full episode.

Capital Tonight: Experts weigh in on the state of Texas water

Central Texas saw plenty of rainfall this week, but is it just a drop in the bucket after years of drought? In part one of Capital Tonight’s special series on the state of Texas water, we checked in on drought conditions with representatives from Groundwater Management Area 10 in San Antonio.


Drought is just one of many things complicating water issues in Texas. We spoke to Tom Harrison of the Central Texas Water Coalition, John Dupnik from the Barton Springs / Edwards Aquifer Conservation District and water rights expert Charles Porter from St. Edward’s University about property rights, groundwater management and more.


Election day is just three weeks away, and people across the state are getting the word out about Proposition 6, which would allocate $2 billion toward the state’s water plan.

But more and more groups are coming together to urge Texans to vote against the measure, with the battle cry, “Nix Prop 6.”

Poll: Texans overwhelmingly support water amendment

A Texas Tribune / University of Texas poll released today shows a majority of Texans are in favor of a constitutional amendment to  pay for water projects. The poll shows 52 percent of people would vote in favor of water funding. That’s compared to 19 percent of people who are opposed and 24 percent who have not decided.

The amendment, known as Proposition 6, would pull $2 billion from the economic stabilization fund to pay for infrastructure. The measure has drawn bipartisan support from the state’s top leaders, including Gov. Rick Perry and House Speaker Joe Straus.

Supporters have been working to get the word out about the ballot measure, but it seems they might still have a lot of work to do. The TT/UT poll also shows only 9 percent of voters have heard a lot about the amendments they’ll be asked to approve in November. About 43 percent have heard some information and 32 percent said they haven’t heard very much. Fifteen percent responded that they have heard nothing at all.

Perry appears in new ads critical of Washington

Gov. Rick Perry will soon be appearing on national news networks, through a newly released ad that criticized Washington, D.C. and touts Texas’ economic policies.

“Washington needs to change, but the President keeps playing politics,” Perry says at the beginning of the 30-second spot. “Conservative governors are reforming taxes and regulations, helping small businesses grow, cutting and balancing budgets. Conservative leadership is putting people back to work, and families are building their futures. We need more of that and less of Washington.”

The ad campaign was launched by Americans for Economic Freedom, which was formed earlier this year as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit. The group’s stated goal is to “promote economic policies at the state level that are conducive to job creation, business development, and economic expansion.”

Gov. Perry, who is the face of the campaign, hasn’t said whether he will run again for the presidential nomination. 


Capital Tonight: Immigration front and center in statewide races

While stop-and-start negotiations in Washington continue, the effects of the shutdown are hitting home with area veterans. Student veterans at Texas State University fear federal funding that helps them pay for school could be delayed if Congress doesn’t come to some sort of deal.


Closer to home, the four Republican candidates for lieutenant governor shared the stage Friday, for a debate at the Austin Convention Center. The incumbent, David Dewhurst, is fighting for his job against three other elected officials, all of whom expressed similar positions on immigration, education and smaller government.

But the tension boiled over several times when it came to an ad run by state Sen. Dan Patrick regarding in-state tuition for certain undocumented students. Gardner Selby with PolitFact Texas joined us to do a fact-check on the ad’s claim.


Plus, our Reporter Roundtable weighed in on some of the strategies coming to the surface in the race for governor. Click the image below to hear more from Jay Root of the Texas Tribune, Jonathan Tilove from the Austin American-Statesman and Peggy Fikac of the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle.

Capital Tonight: Healthcare website still offline for many

While debate over how to end the government shutdown continued in Washington, a key part of the law at the center of it all is still offline for many people.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke with some of the nearly 300 Central Texans who have tried to sign up at one location, but failed to make it through the process.


While the Republican National Committee launches an effort to attract more Latino voters, new poll numbers show the growing Hispanic population appears to be right in the middle of where the party stands on many key issues — except for immigration reform. Our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, joined us to weigh in on that issue and more.


Plus, we sat down with former Texas Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson to talk about his time on the court before retiring earlier this month, along with his vision for a more accessible court system.