Monday, July 04, 2005

Texans for Fair Funding Update on School Finance

Texans for Fair Funding Update June 30, 2005
From the Capitol
On the Fast Track

Yesterday the full Senate was expected to debate and vote on their education plan, SB 2. But after caucusing, Senate leaders decided instead to wait for the House plan, HB 2, to be referred to the Senate.
Early this morning, the Senate education committee met to lay out the House plan and substitute it with their Senate plan. Only one person provided testimony, Mr. Wayne Pierce from the Equity Center. He passionately implored the members not to acquiesce to House pressures to adopt the Houses regressive measures. The Senate proposal was speedily sent to the full Senate for floor debate this morning.
"This issue is too important for us to run out of time again," said Sen. Florence Shapiro. (Plano). Without allowance for much debate, the Senate passed its education plan, 27 to 4.
The plan includes:
Adding $20 million for school facilities;
Providing either weights or set funding amounts equal to the House plan for only compensatory education (for at-risk students) and for bilingual education;
Incrementally increasing equity over next eight years;

To view todays debate on the Senate floor live, visit:
The issue will likely go before a conference committee next week after the Independence Day holiday.
Earlier this Week in the House
On Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed an education plan just before midnight by 77 to 70 and with the Speaker of the House Craddick present and not voting. The plan adopted mirrors the one adopted by small margins during the regular session.
Sounds like more, but its not
Critics of the House plan disagree with the claim that the proposal provides more money for schools. The House plan increases rules and regulations and the number of standardized tests high school students must pass to graduate. In the final analysis, the high costs off-set the increased school funding.
Based on three principles outlined by the Texas Latino Education Coalition,
the House plan fails on all three counts.

  • Providing full equity in funding to the 1,035 Texas public schools.

    Maintaining funding weights for special populations: students qualifying for the free and reduced-price lunch program, English language learners, students in special education, and students who qualify for gifted and talented programs.

    Providing funding for maintenance of school facilities and new construction.

    The Senate plan is not much better.
    Alternative Not Given a ChanceAn alternative plan authored by Rep. Scott Hochberg (Houston) erroneously referred to as a Democratic plan was offered as an amendment to the House plan. The amendment received bi-partisan support. However, the proposal failed by only one vote (75 to 74), with Speaker Craddick (Midland) casting the deciding vote.
    Hochberg touted his bill as:

  •          Increasing basic student funding,
             Providing 100 percent equity for all schools in Texas,
             Increasing teacher pay to reach the national average,
             Keeping state funding for gifted and talented programs (HB 2 eliminates funds),
             Increasing funding for at-risk students by 25 percent, and
             Increasing funding for bilingual education by 50 percent.

    To read more on the House debate on the alternative plan, visit:
    To view the final record vote on the House education plan, visit

    In the News

    The measure to pay for school funding moves forward in the House Ways and Means Committee
    Shoppers would pay a penny more per dollar in sales taxes, smokers would fork over $1 more per pack of cigarettes and more businesses would have to pay the franchise tax under a bill approved by a House panel today to cut school property taxes.
    The Dallas Morning News finds several districts will receive minimal new funds under the new House education plan because of the many new rules and regulations outlined in the bill.
    The Houston Chronicle finds fatal flaws in Perry Plan
    After vetoing legislative appropriations for education and calling a special session, Perry then presented his own taxing plan.A Chronicle analysis of Perry's plan found that its mix of higher sales and professional services taxes, with reduced property taxes, favors affluent Texans at the expense of moderate- and low-income residents.
    State Comptroller calls Governors tax plan a mess, House members also question
    "The governor's plan would result in the largest tax increase in Texas history, is short $200 million this biennium and will force the next Legislature to increases taxes by at least $2.6 billion," the comptroller said.
    View the comptrollers statement:
    On Vouchers
    Can cash buy good schools?
    Ben Sargent cartoon on special session
    Ben Sargent, editorial cartoonist for the Austin American-Statesman, offers a succinct observation regarding Texas lawmakers' inability to come to consensus over school finance.

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