Monday, May 30, 2005

School Finance Plan Rests in Pieces

This about sums up school finance this session. The recapture approach to school funding lives (known by opponents as "Robin Hood"). If there's no special session, the courts will handle school finance for our state. Today is the last day of the session and lots of folks are clearing out.

Kathy Miller, President of the Texas Freedom Network summed up the session well: “Texans clearly set key priorities for this Legislature, especially dealing with crises in school funding and children’s health care. But lawmakers wasted time on distractions like sexy cheerleaders, scapegoating gay Texans and pushing vouchers. Now three times in three years they have failed to improve the way we pay for our public schools. Next year we’ll find out if
politics has a three-strikes rule.”

See today's post of Carolyn Boyle, of the Coalition for Public Schools, as well.

I'll be out for a week in Guanajuato, attending a conference on ethnography at the U of Guanajuato so this blog will likely be quiet until I return.


Excerpt from the Austin A-Statesman—

"The battle over taxes also illustrated the different pressures that the leaders of the House and Senate face.

House Republicans do not need Democratic votes to pass most bills, but Democrats have enough votes in the Senate to block legislation from coming up. Democrats were particularly critical of efforts to raise the sales tax, saying they hurt low- and middle-income families, and Dewhurst's bargaining position reflected that.

Senate negotiators also put more emphasis on seeing that every school district in the state has nearly the same amount of money per student.

The only voters that Craddick has to answer to are the ones in his West Texas district. Southern Methodist University political science professor Cal Jillson said that allows him to pursue a more narrow agenda than that of Dewhurst, who is elected in a statewide vote.

"The West Texas constituency is smaller cities and rural areas, sort of the traditional Texas," Jillson said. "Whereas Dewhurst has to keep his eyes on the cities and the big suburbs around the cities. That is simply an area that is more aware of urban problems, and it has an upper-middle-class constituency that is damn sure their kids are going to get a good education."; 445-3654

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