Did you know that the Texas legislature which is 150 members strong meets for 140 days every two years to complete its work? Thank Karl Rove for that statistic. Did you know that the Texas Senate, unlike other state legislatures, does not include majority or minority leaders? Did you know that both Representatives and Senators in Texas are paid $7,200.00 annually? In addition, they are paid a "per diem" of $128 for every day of the legislative session, making their total just over $25,000 per year.
What is "Political Culture"? Let's take a look at this link from the University of Texas.
Simply put, political culture is a people's shared framework of values, beliefs, and habits of behavior related to government and politics. These ideals and patterns of behavior develop over time and affect the political life of a state, region or country.
More specifically, the concept of political culture refers to how we view the following four aspects of politics, government and society:
the relationship between government and the people
rights and responsibility of the people
obligations of government
limits on governmental authority
Political culture is important because it establishes the backdrop against which politics unfolds. It establishes the outer limits of what is possible, or even probable, in the political realm.
An interesting article, Corruption: No Longer an Iffy Proposition in Pennsylvania, from Franklin and Marshall inspired this post. I think their analysis is right on the mark.
The question is no longer a speculative one. No longer can we ask "if" corruption, widespread and systematic, is returning full bloom to Pennsylvania. Instead, it is now time to ask "why" - why after an absence of a quarter of a century, the blight of public corruption has returned to the Keystone State.
4. Pennsylvania's Zero-Sum Legislative Politics - Driving this feverish push for campaign cash is Pennsylvania's not well understood "zero-sum" legislative politics. In the General Assembly power is concentrated in the hands of the majority caucus. The party that holds a numerical majority in each chamber gets to decide almost anything and everything that matters in state government. In the instant case, that means control over the $29 billion Pennsylvania budget and virtually every major policy decision made by state government, such as Governor Rendell's health care, energy, and education recommendations and most certainly how the state closes the $2.3 to $2.9 billion deficit it faces.
Control of the agenda allows the majority to wield virtually dictatorial power, all of which reduces the minority to mere bystander status. Aggravating this is the current closeness of House control - with one party holding a majority by only a few seats - rendering competition fierce. This situation helps to create a legislature where winning is everything, setting in place an inexorable set of dynamics that explain in part the activities that led to the recent "bonusgate" indictments.