Tuesday, March 31, 2009

If a political firestorm burns inside the Capitol and nobody hears about it, does it make a sound?

Jason Embry has an article this morning about how biotech turned into a political storm (link). From what I can tell, it is a political storm inside the Capitol and the kind of story people outside of the Capitol gloss over while searching for the sports section. Excerpts follow:

Giroir said drugs are often manufactured in large numbers at facilities that make only one product. They are also usually made outside Texas — the state ranks near the top in biomedical research funding but about 30th in commercialization, or turning discoveries into medicines for public consumption.

The idea behind the Texas A&M System center is for a number of drugs to be manufactured quickly, sometimes in small doses, to serve multiple biotech companies in the state, even small ones.


The center itself — aside from the process of how it was funded — has received little criticism.

Said Rep. John Otto, R-Dayton, "I hope we don't throw out what appears to be a really good idea."

I am not really a fan of the ETF in general, but every state has something similar, so not having one might put Texas at a disadvantage compared to other states. It is also something that any Texas Governor has access to, and from what I can tell there was really no actual problem in this case other than a flux in Texas Speaker at the time it was done and the fact that Rick went to Texas A&M. The entire "firestorm" erupted from Representative Pitts, who might actually be using this to take one final shot at former Speaker Tom Craddick. I also heard from a media source who covers news at the Capitol that some of the Pitts posse tried unsuccessfully to drag Rick's son into the story... a big foul in my book.

While I don't really like the idea of economic development funds, I do think investments in higher education are worthwhile. We talk about needing more top tier research institutions in Texas... this is the kind of thing that can solidify a school on the cusp like Texas A&M as a solid Tier 1 level school.

I also don't see this being a big issue in the Rick vs. Kay race, but let me know if you think I am wrong. This story seems like one of those tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it kinds of controversies. It may be a big deal within the forest, but the villagers will never even know about it unless Kay's team spends millions of dollars to tell people about it (which seems like a terrible waste of resources). Even then, don't Aggies rally together when under fire? I could see a bunch of those wacky farmers thinking Kay was attacking funding for their school.

1 comment:

  1. I would wait to pass judgment on this funding issue until all the facts are out. You probably are right that this was innocent confusion on Perry's side about how approval for the project occurred. However, given the uniqueness about the size of the donation, the recipient of the donation, and the lack of oversight in giving the grant to Perry's alma mater, something smells kind of fishy to me. Remember, $50 million approved with no oversight for a questionable program means $50 million of tax dollars not being spent on other governmental goals or returning to the pockets of Texas citizens.


Hey now, campaign characters. Be nice. I know a lot of you on both sides, so I don't want any overly foul language, personal attacks on anyone other than the candidates themselves, or other party fouls. I will moderate the heck out of you if you start breaking the bounds of civility.