Tuesday, July 19, 2005

So, which is better: Bad bill or no bill?


Web Posted: 07/19/2005 12:00 AM CDT

San Antonio Express-News

Which is better, a bad school finance bill or no bill at all?

For our money, the answer is no bill at all.

Should the Texas Legislature, in the waning days of this special session, rush through compromise legislation similar to the bills passed by the House and Senate, it will damage the average Texan and public education while legislative leaders will declare victory and go home. That's the worst outcome.

If no bill passes, lawmakers' failure will be apparent to all Texans, and any equitable solution to the school funding problem will be left to the courts or another special session.

While some people thought that bringing this Legislature back to try to solve a problem they could not solve this spring was a waste of time, we disagreed.

But the legislative solution the lawmakers are now considering doesn't reform the tax system or make school financing equitable.

Instead, it exempts a broad group of businesses — partnerships — from taxation and raises the sales tax, which already is one of the highest in the nation. The Senate and House produced bills that are unfair and inadequate.

The analyses of groups who have studied the proposals suggest that the wealthy benefit and the middle class and less affluent pay.

After watching this governor and this Legislature over the past few years, we sadly have reached the conclusion that they are unable to govern effectively.

They may enjoy small successes, but on the big issues — which they face now — they are unable to solve the state's problems.

If, at the last minute, they pull a bill out, that doesn't mean they have succeeded. That only means they will try to convince citizens that a sow's ear is a silk purse.

Don't let them fool you.

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