March 24, 2017      5:44 PM

HK: Why a special session on the budget has proven to be a bad idea

It’s not only the fact that the appropriators work while everyone else gets into mischief

As the toxic relationship between the Lt. Governor and Speaker has become increasingly public, even Capitol veterans gasped when Joe Straus described the Senate’s transportation funding deferment) as “Enron-esque” accounting. The issue boils down to using some amount of the “people’s assets” stashed in the Rainy Day Fund.  The House thinks honesty in accounting trumps smoke and mirrors in defense of some arbitrary not so conservative principle like pay as you go.

For those of you young staffers, Enron was a Houston superstar energy corporation that flamed out into scandal and extinction because of shifty accounting and off-balance sheet shenanigans. Deferring payments in order to balance the budget has been standard procedure during crises, but in the faux age of self-promoted transparency, efforts to obscure should be used sparingly.

But I digress. 

By Harvey Kronberg

March 24, 2017      5:38 PM

Amid controversial letter campaign, Education Chair says the votes aren't there yet to bring vouchers to Senate floor

Chair Taylor’s rough math on the new fiscal note would be $400 million in costs against $250 million in savings, which would result in a five-year cost of approximately $150 million

Senate Education kicked this session’s school choice bill out of committee this week, putting one more bill in motion that still does not have the votes to get on the floor for debate.

Sponsor and Chair Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, rolled out another substitute for Senate Bill 3 – his third version – in a Thursday morning meeting that ended in a 7-3-1 vote. The “nays” were Democrat Senators Royce West and Carlos Uresti, along with rural Republican Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo. Supporter Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, was absent for the meeting.

This version of Senate Bill 3 is moving so quickly it has yet to pick up a revised fiscal note.

Chairman Taylor openly admitted after the meeting that he does not have the votes to get the combination education savings account/tax-credit scholarship bill to the floor of the Senate, but he is optimistic some version of school choice could make it through both chambers by session’s end.

“What we send over there probably won’t be what comes back. Whatever comes back will probably be narrowed quite a bit, just based on the conversations I’ve been having,” Taylor said after a brief hearing to vote out bills. “But I think it does have a chance.”

By Kimberly Reeves

March 24, 2017      5:36 PM

Visa, Qualcomm, and the Richardson Chamber join coalition against bathroom bill

Major financial companies, hotels, tech, manufacturing and more are in TAB's "Keep Texas Open for Business" campaign

The full updated list is here.

March 24, 2017      4:57 PM

Greenfield: State expenditures in FY17

In the second part of his budget analysis, our resident number cruncher Dr. Stuart Greenfield takes a look at expenditures and says halftime growth = -0.3 Percent

Last July when state officials realized that state revenue growth was less than expected, the state’s leadership asked agencies to reduce their budget requests for FY18-19 by 4 percent.  In January, following the release of the Biennial Revenue Estimate, the Governor imposed a hiring freeze on state agencies.  These actions would either reduce future expenditures, the former, or reduce current expenditures, the latter.

Unlike FY17 when all funds expenditures grew by 7.7 percent, see Table 1, expenditures through the first six months of FY17 have declined by 0.3 percent.  These changes in expenditures differ from the LBB all funds expenditures change for FY16 and FY17 of 2.8 percent and -2.8 percent, respectively.  For the current biennium, the LBB expects a 2.9 percent increase in expenditures (209.1 billion).  Using all funds expenditures reported by the Comptroller indicates that the increase will be 11.0 percent, with expenditures totaling $228.8 billion for this biennium.

The full column by Dr. Stuart Greenfield can be read in the R&D Department.

By Dr. Stuart Greenfield

March 24, 2017      4:41 PM

Press Releases: Health care bill pulled, Sen. Burton writes to Washington, and more

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March 24, 2017      4:18 PM

In chat at UT, Straus says bathroom bill is out of control; budget issues will be resolved

“This isn’t the first time the House and the Senate have had differences of opinion on budgeting.”

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus once again emphasized his aversion to Senate Bill 6, the so-called “bathroom bill” Friday, saying that the situation has gotten “out of control.”

“If we’ve gotten to the point in our civilization, in our society, that our politicians have to pass bills about bathroom stuff, we’ve gotten really out of control,” Straus said to Texas Politics Project Director Jim Henson during an interview at The University of Texas at Austin. 

“There are laws on the books now about, you know, behavior in a bathroom or creating crimes or criminal acts in a bathroom or anywhere else,” Straus said. “So, it seems a little manufactured to me and unnecessary.”

For the past couple months, Straus has time and time again voiced his opposition to the controversial bill, a pet project Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and archconservative anti-gay activist Steve Hotze.

By Eleanor Dearman

March 24, 2017      4:16 PM

Smith: Abbott and Patrick The Fratricidal Politicking of "The Brothers Grimm" Hurts Texas

QR’s Liberal Columnist Glenn W. Smith argues that Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Dan Patrick are engaged in an escalating race to the right to protect themselves from one another. It’s bad for Texas.

It’s not unusual for tensions to increase as a legislative session enters its get-some-things-done stage. Spring training is over. Games now count and the standings matter. But something is different this year.

Despite his protests to the contrary, there’s continual Capitol chatter that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick intends to either challenge Gov. Greg Abbott for governor or bluff him out of the race in 2018. Abbott appears to take the challenge possibility seriously.

Abbott doesn’t appear all that vulnerable until one considers how hard-right voters control Republican primaries. And Patrick may be betting that President Donald Trump’s popularity with GOP primary voters is enough to neutralize Abbott’s sizable fundraising lead.

The complete column by Glenn W. Smith is in the R&D Department.

By Glenn W. Smith

March 24, 2017      12:05 PM

Sandlin: Governor Says His Voice Is the Only One That Matters

TML argues that “if Texans feel warm and comfortable under a patchwork quilt, those who seek to do business here – and our Governor – should recognize and respect that.”

Destroying city neighborhoods one step at a time requires too much effort. So, Gov. Greg Abbott wants one sweeping state law to ban city residents from having a say in protecting the health, safety, and property values in their communities.

While the Legislature is debating dozens of bills to overturn local ordinances and voter approved referendums, Gov. Abbott said last week: “I think a broad-based law by the state of Texas that says across the board, the state is going to preempt local regulations, is a superior approach."

The Governor said this scorched earth approach was “more elegant.”  Maybe he meant more regal or more tyrannical.

The complete column by Bennett Sandlin is in the R&D Department.

By Bennett Sandlin of TML

March 23, 2017      5:06 PM

Fallout from the Baylor sex assault scandal: Texas lawmakers are asked to protect victims

As a young victim says “Please stop protecting my attacker,” Sen. Birdwell said he is “profoundly concerned with the rights of the accused,” though he does support the legislation on the table

Survivors of sexual assault appeared before the Texas Senate State Affairs Committee Thursday, urging lawmakers to pass proposed measures that would work to improve reporting of such crimes on university campuses.

Among them were women from Texas A&M University, Trinity University, The University of Texas at Austin and Baylor University. The women shared personal accounts of assault and explained why this legislation is so important to them.

“A little over a year ago I was assaulted by a guy who I’d just met,” said Paige Hardy, a sophomore at Baylor University to a panel of lawmakers. “My friends, my family society, have all told me that this was my fault. That because alcohol was involved, I deserved it. That ‘maybe’ means ‘yes’ and ‘no’ means ‘convince me.’ That if I didn’t call the police within minutes of my attacks, I must be lying.”

By Eleanor Dearman

March 23, 2017      5:04 PM

Press Releases: Human trafficking, SB3 reactions, raise the age, and more

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March 23, 2017      4:54 PM

Greenfield: State Revenue Situation, Improving, but Not Great

As the House and Senate stake out their positions on the budget, our resident number cruncher Dr. Stuart Greenfield takes a look at the improving revenue situation. Tomorrow, he’ll look at the expenditure side of the equation

State revenue receipts, unlike Gaul, can be divided into two parts, General Revenue-Related (GRR) and non-GRR.  The former is the revenue stream that our legislators can appropriate with their complete discretion, while the latter, e.g., federal funds, is dedicated to a specific government activity, e.g., Medicaid, public education.

When Comptroller  Glenn Hegar released the Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) for FY18-19 on January 9, 2017, all hands immediately turned to Table A-1 which shows the funds that the Comptroller certifies is available to the Legislator to appropriate.  Table A-1 shows $104.9 billion available for the 85th Legislature for discretionary spending.

This $104.9 billion is $5.4 billion less than the Comptroller stated in the Certification Estimate, released in October 2015, would be available for FY16-17 and $2.9 billion less than the amount for FY16-17 in the current estimate.  This reduction in available revenue was anticipated, and the Governor and Legislative Budget Board took actions, hiring freeze, to reduce state expenditures for FY17.

The complete column by Dr. Stuart Greenfield is in the R&D Department.

By Dr. Stuart Greenfield

March 23, 2017      1:05 PM

Texas GOP Chairman slams Texas Tribune story that suggested he improperly lobbied

Mechler said he’s done it all by the rules and “It comes as no surprise that the Texas Tribune, an organization with a history of bashing Republicans and Republican values while lifting up Democrats, is at it again.”

In response to a Texas Tribune story this week that suggested he may have improperly lobbied state officials about the oil and gas business, Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tom Mechler on Wednesday told members of the State Republican Executive Committee he wanted to “set the record straight.”

“It is not surprising that Democrats and the liberal media are continuing to lob false accusations at Republican leaders across the state,” Mechler wrote in an email obtained by Quorum Report on Thursday.

“Over the past year, they have repeatedly used false allegations and fake news to try to discredit Republican leadership,” Mechler said.

By Scott Braddock

March 23, 2017      10:19 AM

Former Chairman Keffer joins TAB for session

“Jim will be focusing on a number of areas, include our work against discriminatory legislation,” said TAB President Chris Wallace

The full release from the Texas Association of Business can be downloaded here.

March 22, 2017      4:59 PM

Updated: Looming showdown over budget draws comparisons to Enron, puts pressure on Hegar

Straus says the Senate is “cooking the books” as the Finance Committee pushes $2.5 billion in spending into the next biennium

Senate Finance is using a sales tax deferral to expand the capacity of this session’s budget, a last-minute maneuver that Speaker of the House Joe Straus equates to cooking the books.

Chair Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, unveiled the choice in a back-and-forth with Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, in this morning’s Senate Finance hearing. Nelson said the committee substitute to Senate Bill 1, which passed the committee unanimously, only represented the appropriations side of the budget. Changes were occurring simultaneously on the revenue side, she added.

“For example, the comptroller has informed us that $2.5 billion of the $5 billion Prop 7 transfer can occur in September 2019 and therefore will not count against the fiscal year 18-19 biennium,” Nelson told her colleagues. “The substitute….”

Then Bettencourt interrupted the chair’s comments to provide the explanation of the transfer.

By Kimberly Reeves

March 22, 2017      4:56 PM

Senate takes up limiting university tuition increases

U of H’s Khator said “These measures, there’s nothing wrong, we can tweak some of them to make them better for sure, and the flexibility is good…the trouble will come when we try to set specific targets.”

The debate over college tuition regulation returned to the Texas Senate Wednesday when the Higher Education Committee met to discuss a handful of bills dealing with limiting tuition increases.

The five proposals go about limiting increases in several ways. Senate Bill 250 by Charles Schwertner, R- Georgetown, would freeze tuition rates for a year. After that increases would be capped to inflation rates. Senate Bill 442 by Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, freezes an institution’s tuition at the 2017-2018 academic year level and requires, leaving it up to the legislature to permit increases.

Senate Bill by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would prohibit institutions from increasing tuition “except to make up any difference between core operational costs and state formula funding appropriations.”

By Eleanor Dearman

March 22, 2017      4:51 PM

Press Releases: Medicaid reforms, firefighters, golf course fight, and more

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March 22, 2017      3:14 PM

Hegar weighs in on Senate sales tax deferral plan

"If the estimated $2.2 billion in sales tax collections in fiscal 2018 for the highway fund were transferred in September 2018, and the $2.5 billion in fiscal 2019 sales taxes were transferred in September 2019, then there would be a gain to certification of $2.5 billion for the 2018-19 biennium."

Comptroller Glenn Hegar's response to Finance Chair Jane Nelson can be downloaded here.

March 22, 2017      12:22 PM

Straus says Senate is cooking the books on the budget like Enron

“I’m not interested in cooking the books just to avoid a vote on the Rainy Day Fund,” Straus said

Arguing that the Texas Senate is double counting $2.5 billion in dedicated transportation funding in its budget, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Wednesday said "This is the Texas Legislature. We are not Enron."

“I want to be clear that counting money twice in order to balance the budget is not a good idea," Speaker Straus said.

“I’m not interested in cooking the books just to avoid a vote on the Rainy Day Fund,” Straus told reporters in the afternoon.

By Scott Braddock

March 22, 2017      10:18 AM

Updated: Senate Finance votes out SB 1 15 to 0; vote on the budget by the full Senate expected Tuesday

March 21, 2017      9:46 PM

Under cloud of bogus school voucher letters, Senate holds late night hearing on vouchers

All the promises of miracles happening in private schools quickly start to sound like a multi-level marketing convention

Texans have probably never done more, spent more or hired more lobbyists to promote the idea that the state needs to move forward with school choice legislation.

At last count, Texans for Educational Opportunity had a dozen lobbyists on its payroll, including Mike Toomey, Bill Messer and John Colyandro. Thousands of endorsements – albeit bogus form letters – have gone out from Austin to lawmakers in both chambers. And supporters of school choice have spared no expense to put together a polished pro-choice message in front of lawmakers, a strategy that appeared to resonate with Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville.

The only bill on the agenda in Senate Education was Senate Bill 3. The committee is stacked this session with Republicans most favorable to a vote on school choice. Democrat Lucio, for one, also has warmed to the argument that disinterested parents will finally be involved with their children’s lives if they are given the right to choose.

By Kimberly Reeves

March 21, 2017      6:29 PM

Rural Republican senators also receiving fraudulent school voucher letters

Sen. Seliger says his office discovered that a deceased person had been impersonated writing a letter in favor of vouchers; says lawmakers are being "defrauded"

Quorum Report has now learned that some Republican senators who represent large swaths of rural Texas are also receiving the same kind of “fraudulent” school voucher letters that were reported earlier by rural Texas House members.

Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, is said to have received the letters and Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, confirmed to QR’s Eleanor Dearman this afternoon that his office has received hundreds of them.

Sen. Seliger said one of the letters his office received recently came from a person his staff later discovered is deceased.

March 21, 2017      6:28 PM

Rural GOP House lawmakers alarmed by "fraudulent" letters promoting school vouchers

“We've gone to complete new lows in public campaigns” said former Rep. Hardcastle; Rep. Clardy: “I’m going to defend the people of my district and protect their identity”

Rural Republican Texas House members are sounding the alarm after a significant number of them say they received letters promoting school vouchers from what at first appeared to be constituents but turned out to apparently be sent by someone in Austin. But the actual sender of the letters is a mystery.

The letters, described by members who received them as “fraudulent,” included the names and addresses of constituents but were not signed. And even though constituents’ addresses were used from places like Gatesville and Vernon, the envelopes had an Austin postmark.

One of the letters sent to Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, included the name and address of former Rep. Rick Hardcastle, who told Quorum Report that the tactic represents “a new low.” Hardcastle said Rep. Springer contacted him after receiving the letter with Hardcastle’s name on it. Hardcastle was taken aback that someone would impersonate him and completely misrepresent his opinion.

“I'm not a voucher guy and everybody knows I'm not a voucher guy," Hardcastle said.

By Eleanor Dearman and Scott Braddock

March 21, 2017      6:26 PM

Press Releases: Property tax reactions, wrongful birth, Intelligence hearing, NASA, and more

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March 21, 2017      3:38 PM

SB 2 passes the Senate after attempt to amend by Sen. Seliger

Sen. Charles Perry said he feels he is letting down his rural district but voted for Patrick's property tax bill anyway

Bathrooms and school vouchers aside, the Texas Senate on Tuesday passed a bill centered on the defining issue in Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s rise to power: Property tax “reform.”

When the dust had cleared after the debate on Senate Bill 2 – the measure by Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, limiting local governments’ ability to control local property taxes – Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, was the lone Republican to join with the Democrats in voting “no.”

The final vote was 18 to 12 with one absent.  

By James Russell

March 21, 2017      9:10 AM

The powerful Texas Association of Realtors supports SB 2

"When local elected officials hide behind increasing property values to justify larger budgets, taxpayers suffer. Senate Bill 2 goes a long way to fix this problem”

The press release from the Texas Association of Realtors can be downloaded here.

March 20, 2017      5:38 PM

Houston Mayor Turner faces tough questions from senators over pension plan

“Some are not as comfortable as we would like, but the reality is I can’t think of any other way to fix it,” Turner told the committee this morning. “There is no perfect pension bill.”

That victory lap Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner was perhaps planning to take at Senate State Affairs Committee this morning felt a whole lot more like a slog, given the opposition mounting to is efforts to reform Houston’s pension system.

The failure of Houston’s municipal, fire and police pension plan is oft-told: erroneous actuarial calculations in 2001, underfunded payments, weak investment returns and, most perplexing, the city borrowing against its own pension fund for non-pension items. Turner came into office thinking he faced a $5.6 billion gap; all told, it’s closer to $8.1 billion.

Failure to negotiate a compromise would cost Turner’s budget an extra $134 million. So, Turner and his staff met faithfully with all three unions for months to craft a fix. By October, all three unions had agreed terms that were later blessed by the City Council.

By Kimberly Reeves

March 20, 2017      5:37 PM

Press Releases: Gorsuch, health care bill, minimum wage, and more

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March 20, 2017      3:57 PM

Democrats clash with Texas House Republicans over proposals on minimum wage

“What we are asking for is something for the little dogs,” Rep. Thompson; Rep. Shine says a hike in the minimum wage would increase wage inflation

The minimum wage took center stage at a Monday House Business and Industry Committee meeting, where legislators heard nine bills aimed at bumping up the floor on how much a person can be compensated per hour in Texas.

Texas’ minimum wage is set at the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. Most of the proposals heard on Monday recommend that it be increased to either $10.10 or $15 an hour. Two would leave it up to local governments to decide.

“What we are asking for is something for the little dogs,” Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, said while laying out her proposal to set the minimum wage at $10.10 an hour. “This is a little dogs’ bill.”

But several GOP members of the committee were not convinced, expressing concerns about potential negative economic impacts including for small business owners.

Rep. Hugh Shine, R-Belton, was among them.  

By Eleanor Dearman

March 20, 2017      3:56 PM

House GOP Caucus Chair Parker says third-party groups spreading misinformation on minimum wage

“Allowing the legislation to be heard in committee did not put it on any type of fast track, nor did it change the likelihood that this legislation would become law.”

Saying “there have been third-party groups engaging in spreading false and misleading information” about the minimum wage bills being heard today in the Legislature, Texas House GOP Caucus Chairman Tan Parker on Monday said he’d like to “set the record straight.”

“Last week, the House voted on a procedural motion to suspend the House Rules and allow a bill to be heard in committee without the usual five-day posting period,” said Parker, R-Flower Mound. “This is a courtesy that legislators from both parties routinely extend to one another.”

In this instance, he said, a Republican presented the motion on behalf of his committee chairman as a courtesy so that bills addressing the minimum wage could be heard today in House Business and Industry. “Allowing the legislation to be heard in committee did not put it on any type of fast track, nor did it change the likelihood that this legislation would become law,” Parker said. “In short, the legislation is no more likely to pass than it was before the vote was taken.”

Parker’s full statement is here.

March 18, 2017      10:15 AM

Kolkhorst helped slip $5 million project for Lucio into budget after he was lone Dem to support SB 6

After bathroom bill vote, Sen. Kolkhorst sponsored what conservatives would certainly call “pork” for Lucio’s district; the senator from Brenham’s office calls it “common practice”

After Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, became the lone Senate Democrat to support the “bathroom bill,” many in his own party accused the South Texas lawmaker of being a “complete sellout.” He was taking so much heat from fellow Democrats, in fact, that his son Rep. Eddie Lucio III came to his defense in a passionate plea for civil disagreement.

“My father preached love and service in my house growing up, and although I sincerely believe that his position is not rooted in hate, it is still wrong and will create adversity for many,” Rep. Lucio said, adding that he completely disagrees with his father on Senate Bill 6. Their family quarrel has drawn national attention.

Now Quorum Report has learned that the day after the bathroom bill was finally passed by the Senate, SB6’s author Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, sponsored a rider quietly slipped into the upper chamber’s version of the state’s spending plan to shell out $5 million during a tight budget year for a project her fellow conservatives would most assuredly call “pork” in Lucio’s district.

The rider would appropriate $5 million for a Center for Urban Ecology at Quinta Mazatlan in the Rio Grande Valley. Quinta Mazatlan, by the way, is a historic adobe mansion and nature and birding center in McAllen.

By Scott Braddock

March 17, 2017      5:31 PM

Competing budgets propose fix for health care for teacher retirees

Both chambers are pretty far apart while retired teachers say the House is “laser focused on developing ways to help lessen the pain on retirees”

The House and Senate have found hundreds of millions of dollars to plug a hole in health care for teacher retirees, but a long-term fix likely will require major structural changes.

What Tim Lee of the Texas Retired Teachers Association can say is that lawmakers have found real money for TRS-Care in a tight budget session. The Senate has ponied up $317 million. The House has pulled $500 million from the Rainy Day Fund to cover increasing costs.

TRTA has probably gotten the best deal it can this session while awaiting some kind of permanent solution for spiraling costs, Lee said. On the Senate side, Sen. Joan Huffman’s Senate Bill 788 has phased in premium increases, slowed somewhat by a bump in the state contribution from 1 percent to 1.25 percent. That percentage is applied to the aggregate of teacher pay in the state, Lee said.

By Kimberly Reeves

March 17, 2017      5:25 PM

As the process begins, proposals on ridesharing have nuanced differences

Three big bills emerge as the major players on the issue by Schwertner, Nichols, and Paddie

Members of the Legislature this week heard several proposals related to regulating ride-hailing companies. The topic was considered in House and Senate committees as bills with many of the same goals but some nuanced differences were laid out.

In a Thursday House Transportation Committee meeting, while taking up House Bill 100 by Rep. Chris Paddie, lawmakers grappled with many of the same arguments for why or why not the bill should pass as were heard in Senate committee on Tuesday.

By Eleanor Dearman

March 17, 2017      5:24 PM

Press Releases: A first time with the gavel, TCEQ, and Cruz back on the scene

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March 17, 2017      5:09 PM

Sen. Kolkhorst takes up the cause of an industry often under fire from conservatives: Horseracing

"As a Senator who represents so many Texans involved in the horse racing industry, this is a huge economic development issue,” Kolkhorst said

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, has filed a trio of bills intended to bolster the flagging revenues of the Texas Racing Commission, which will depend on an advance of fees from the racing industry to close out its final expenses this year.

The racing industry had a tough interim, with a squabble with conservatives like Finance Committee Chair Jane Nelson over historical racing putting the agency’s funding in danger. Add to that, a number of dormant tracks refusing to pay license fees to the commission, compromising the agency’s budget. The latter led to messy year-end meeting with multiple parties claiming ownership of the Longhorn Downs license.

By Kimberly Reeves

March 17, 2017      3:59 PM

O’Donnell: Return of the Evil Empire!

Our Senior Curmudgeon says Trump wants to take us back to the days of “atomic attack drills, ‘duck and cover,’ decontamination stations, fallout shelters, ICBMs, missile silos…and constant anxiety.”

About once a week these days I wake up and check my Mickey Mouse watch for the latest President Twump time. Too often I find that it has automatically turned back five or ten years. It was, therefore, no surprise when I found that it had turned back 60 years and a U.S. president was talking about our nation’s need to be at the “top” of the nuclear weapon food chain.

A recent New York Times report said we’re behind the Ruskies in nuclear weapons stockpiled. They have 7,300 atomic bombs while we only have 7,000. The remaining 1,000 dooms day devices available globally are sprinkled over our allies and foes. Most notably among the worrisome buggers are China with 260, Pakistan with 120 and the ever-popular North Korea with 10. Apparently having enough atomic weapons stockpiled to kill all living things on the planet is once again not sufficient to anyone’s national security.

The full column by Edd O’Donnell is in the R&D Department.

By Edd O'Donnell