Sunday, August 28, 2005
Collin County Opinions asked local lawmakers – including state Reps. Jodie Laubenberg, Ken Paxton, Brian McCall and Jerry Madden – to answer the following question. Only Sen. Florence Shapiro offered a response for publication.
Question: Many voters are angry that there still is no new plan to fund schools. Should they be angry? At whom?
Answer: Voters are frustrated and disappointed that the Legislature was unable to pass a bill to reform school finance. I share in that frustration and disappointment, but not anger. I don't blame any one party for this failure, but the combination of competing forces at play in the process with different interests and priorities.
Property taxpayers would like relief from high tax rates and are frustrated that there is no relief in sight. Educators and parents would like to see more money flow to schools and are frustrated that they will not see an increase this year. And the business community is understandably concerned about what new revenue or tax might replace local property tax, and how much the cost will be. With all of those forces at play and a school finance case pending before the Texas Supreme Court, the political reality was that we failed.
Dwelling on anger and blame doesn't move us toward a resolution. We must instead assess the situation, learn lessons from the experience we have gained thus far and build toward a solution that achieves our goals.
As the official elected to represent Collin County in the Texas Senate, I have voiced our community's desires and concerns and passed school finance reform legislation out of the Senate four times now. I have worked with my colleagues in the House to build compromise and consensus that members in both chambers could support.
I will continue that work until the job is done. In the immortal words of baseball legend Babe Ruth: "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run."
State Sen. Florence Shapiro represents District 8, which includes Collin County and parts of Dallas County. Her e-mail address is Florence.Shapiro@ senate.state.tx.us.
Online at: http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/collin/opinion/stories/DN-north_shapiro_28edi.ART.North.Edition2.4272b2d.html