Panel discusses GOP agenda for budget, Perry's ambitions

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After gaining 22 seats in the Texas House of Representatives, Republicans could cut up to $25 million from state social services, a panel of political journalists agreed on Thursday.

Reporters and editors from The Dallas Morning News, Texas Monthly, Texas Tribune and Quorum Report discussed the significance of this year’s midterm election at the third annual fall forum at the Center for Politics and Governance.

Christy Hoppe, the Austin bureau chief of The Dallas Morning News, said Texas already has a “lean and mean” government. She said the cuts will affect services Texans deem essential such as after-school programs, nursing homes, parks and even financial aid for college students.

“Once they start hitting the middle class in particular — and it will — then you’ll hear some screaming,” Hoppe said.

Republicans now hold 99 seats in the House — the most since Reconstruction. Texas Tribune reporter Elise Hu said on election night there was a strong message that Texans wanted to continue to keep spending and taxes low compared to other states.

Texas Monthly executive editor Paul Burka said that Texas has always been a conservative state, whether Republicans or Democrats are in power.

“It’s just a great big conservative streak that goes back into the 19th century when there was not just a lot of sympathy for the underdog,” Burka said. “If you couldn’t make it out in the frontier, you were a liability to your neighbors. That conservative self-reliant streak is just inbred in a lot of Texans.”

The panel also discussed Gov. Rick Perry’s win and their predictions about whether he will run for president. Burka said there was no question he’s going to run for president because he is governor of the largest red state and he is popular in Texas.

Hoppe said she does not believe he will run but agreed he is a polarizing public figure like Sarah Palin.

“If she’s Barbie, he’s Ken,” Hoppe said.