Capital Tonight: State’s role in flood recovery still uncertain

It’s been one week since floods swept through parts of Travis County, leaving hundreds of homes damaged. While flood victims in Southeast Austin work to rebuild, they’re also waiting to hear whether the state will lend a hand.

In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we look at what state officials are doing and where Gov. Rick Perry’s is while recovery efforts continue.


Sen. John Cornyn can breathe a sign of relief, now that a potential challenger has decided not to run. But a new poll suggests he’s not out of the weeds yet. Our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, joined us to weigh in on that development and more.


A recently-released national report finds Texas in the bottom third in the nation in early childhood education. We talked to Frances Deviney with the Center for Public Policy Priorities about what the study means.

Capital Tonight: After the election, a long road ahead

The campaigning is over, the votes are cast and the results are in, but plenty of unknowns remain over two of the biggest decisions voters made at the polls.

In Wednesday’s Capital Tonight, we spoke to Texas Water Development Board Chairman Carlos Rubinstein about the work that remains now that funding is lined up for the state’s water plan, and we looked at the campaign ahead for Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle, the two candidates sent into a runoff election over House District 50.


Voting trends nationwide are raising concerns about the strength of the Tea Party, but the polls at home tell a different story. We sat down with James Henson of the Texas Politics Project for a look behind the numbers.


And we talked to Democratic candidate Maria Luisa Alvarado about her latest bid for lieutenant governor.

Perry blasts Obama over call for Medicaid expansion

Gov. Rick Perry had some harsh words for President Barack Obama Wednesday. Obama traveled to Dallas to promote his landmark health care law and to urge the state to consider expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

According to Obama, doing so would potentially cover more than a million Texans who are currently uninsured.

“One of the things that gets me a little frustrated,” Obama said, “are folks who are complaining about how the website’s not working, and why isn’t Obama fixing it. And yet they’re leaving more than a million people right now without health insurance that they could immediately fix.”

Gov. Perry has maintained that Texas will not expand Medicaid under Obamacare. Instead, he requested a federal block grant that would allow Texas to make changes to the program without having to follow federal guidelines. Gov. Perry did not mince words in his response to the President’s request, saying:

“President Obama deceived the American people by promising that anyone who liked their health care plan could keep it, but millions of Americans are now discovering that simply isn’t true. Now, he’s coming to Texas in a desperate attempt to salvage his ill-conceived and unpopular program from a Titanic fate by preaching expansion of the same Medicaid system he himself admits is broken. In Texas, where Medicaid already consumes a quarter of the state budget, we simply need the flexibility to implement fundamental, state-specific reforms to our Medicaid program, instead of a one-size-fits-all Washington mandate, before it bankrupts our state. Mr. President, Texans aren’t the reason Obamacare is crumbling; Obamacare is the reason Obamacare is crumbling.”

Texas is one of 21 states that declined to expand Medicaid as part of Obamacare. There were several bipartisan attempts last legislative session to come up with a Texas-specific version of expansion. None of those bills gained enough support to move forward.

Abbott responds to Obama visit in new web ad

Attorney General Greg Abbott released a new online ad Wednesday to coincide with President Obama’s visit to Dallas. In his ad, Abbott criticizes the administration over the troubled roll out of the Affordable Care Act and highlights Obama’s losses in the Lone Star State.

In a statement to accompany the ad, Abbott said, “Texans don’t need a half-billion-dollar website to find out that they don’t support ObamaCare, and we are not going to let this abusive, overreaching program sink its teeth too deeply into Texas.”

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured citizens in the country. Obama spoke in Dallas to promote the positive points of the Affordable Care Act and to urge Gov. Rick Perry to expand Medicaid.

Capital Tonight: Voters generous on statewide ballot measures

Voters approved all nine of the statewide ballot measures, including a proposal to jump-start the state’s water plan with $2 billion. Meanwhile, the race for House District 50 is down to two candidates — Democrat Celia Israel and Republican Mike VanDeWalle — who will campaign against each other in a runoff election.

In Tuesday’s Capital Tonight, we checked in on election returns, plus we heard political analysis from Harold Cook and Ted Delisi.


Yet another poll on the Texas governor’s race came out Tuesday, but this one gives the Republican frontrunner more breathing room. We looked at the numbers, and got a preview of the 2014 national midterm elections from our DC bureau.


Plus, Houston saw a contentious election, but it wasn’t necessarily a candidate drawing all the attention.

New poll shows Abbott with 15-point lead over Davis

A potential matchup in the race for governor is looking less favorable for Sen. Wendy Davis this week.

New numbers from Public Policy Polling show Davis trailing Republican frontrunner Greg Abbott by 15 points, with 15 percent undecided. The poll assumes Abbott wins his party’s nomination for governor and that no one runs as an independent.

The PPP poll also posited a hypothetical three-candidate matchup, assuming that Debra Media dropped her bid for comptroller and ran for governor as an Independent instead. In that scenario, Abbott still commanded a 10-point lead, with Davis holding onto 37 percent and Medina grabbing 9 percent.

The PPP poll surveyed 500 voters by an automated phone interview and has a margin of error of 4.4 percent.

Monday, a University of Texas / Texas Tribune poll showed Davis trailing by only six percent against Abbott in a head-to-head matchup, with that gap shrinking to five percentage points with Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass included in the race.

Capital Tonight: Looking ahead to election day


Click the link below to watch Monday’s show in its entirety. 

The governor’s race is shaping up to be the most exciting match-up in decades. A new University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll shows Republican Greg Abbott leading Democrat Wendy Davis, 40 percent to 34 percent. The Texas politics project’s Jim Henson joined us in the studio Monday to break down the numbers.



Early voting is over and election day is Tuesday. On Monday’s show, we got an update on voter turnout and voter ID. Plus, Harvey Kronberg with the Quorum Report offered his commentary on the week’s political news.



Voters will be faced with nine proposed constitutional amendments when they head to the polls. If they are approved, the amendments will join more than 600 that have already been added to the constitution over the years. In the video below, former State Senator John Montford talks about the history of the state’s complicated constitution and efforts to simplify it.


New UT/TT poll shows close governor’s race

A new University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll shows the governor’s race within single digits. The poll released Monday puts Attorney General Greg Abbott ahead of Wendy Davis, 40 percent to 34 percent. About a quarter of those polled still say they have not decided who to vote for.

Poll director Daron Shaw told the Texas Tribune, “What you’ve got is a race in which, for the first time in a long time, the Democrat is as well-known as the Republican at the outset of the race.”

James Henson from the Texas Politics Project will join us this evening to talk more about what the poll means for the 2014 election.

Capital Tonight: Questions emerge over voter affidavits

Gregory Wayne Abbott will have to sign one when he shows up to the polls, and Wendy Russell Davis has already had to do so. In Thursday’s Capital Tonight, we examine the argument over affidavits — the sworn statements voters must sign when their photo IDs differ from their voter registration cards.


The state’s cancer research funding agency is back up and running, after state leaders lifted a moratorium on the grant process. But after a high-profile scandal over misuse of the approval process, can the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas successfully rehabilitate its image? Our Capital Commentators, Harold Cook and Ted Delisi, joined us to weigh in on that topic and more.


Regardless of your thoughts on the Affordable Care Act, there’s no doubt that premiums will rise for some in Texas. We spoke with John Davidson with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation about why he believes young, adult males will be hit the hardest.

Appeals court sides with state in abortion law ruling

An appeals court has overturned the decision of a federal judge who blocked parts of a controversial abortion bill.

A three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals issued the ruling Thursday night, allowing the law requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals to take effect while a lawsuit over the restriction continues.

The ruling comes just three days after District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that the same provision serves no medical purpose. Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers had argued that the regulations were unconstitutional, and sought to have them delayed through a temporary injunction.

Instead, the new requirements will likely go into effect immediately.