April 24, 2004
Thus endeth week one

We're now one week into the special session on school finance reform, and the one thing we know for sure is that the Perry Plan is toast. Neither Tom Craddick nor David Dewhurst has supported it, there's already an alternate plan in the works, and of course on the sidelines we have Carole "No Strippers!" Strayhorn throwing spitballs.

It's been my belief that if the sessions implode with no major action taken, Perry will suffer some blowback. However, as this AP story notes, he may come out all right anyway.

No matter which school finance plan emerges, Perry appears to be hoping Texas voters in 2006 give him credit for pushing lawmakers to address the vexing subject.

Even George W. Bush wasn't successful when he tried to pass a school funding plan as governor in 1997, Perry has pointed out.

Republican political consultant Ray Sullivan, who has close ties to Perry and Bush, said polls showed then that voters supported Bush's efforts.

"School finance is a monstrously difficult issue for any governor or Legislature to address," Sullivan said. "Texas governors have not always been successful at dealing with school finance in the past. But they generally get credit for trying."

There is something to that, and for sure even an incremental change which includes some kind of property tax cap will be seen as a victory for Perry. I still see this spinning out of his control, and other players in the 2006 game claiming more credit than him. We'll see.

I will say this: Strayhorn is on the verge of turning into a self-parody. (Not that she really had all that far to go, in my opinion - all that "tough grandma" baloney always made me gag.) Sooner or later, people are going to say to her "OK, smartypants, what's your plan?" Closing down strip clubs isn't going to sound any more like a bright idea than taxing them is. Look at this editorial from the Lufkin Daily News (via Byron). If you've lost Lufkin, you've lost the Common Person Common Sense mantle.

Continuing its great job of political coverage from the redistricting sessions, the Austin Chronicle has a fine overview of this session and what may happen. Check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 24, 2004 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

The Austin Chronicle's coverage of the appraisal creep problem is actually quite poor, and doesn't really get into specifics.

It's clear the writer doesn't like the notion of lowering the appraisal cap (and doesn't like Dan Patrick for that matter), but it's not so clear that he even understands there already IS an appraisal cap, and that it has not really worked out as planned (instead, annual 10% increases have been the norm, and property taxes have skyrocketed). It's certainly understandable that local entities don't want reform in this area, because they're getting away with what is effectively a 10% tax increase most years without any political heat. I imagine they wish Bettencourt would take his numbers and stick them up his... well, you know.

Before the sessions are over, I suspect appraisal creep relief may be the only thing that anyone agrees on, though. We'll see.

Posted by: kevin whited on April 25, 2004 10:02 AM