June 16, 2004
Dewhurst wants another session

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has called on Governor Perry to call another special session on school finance reform.

"What I'm worried about is if we don't get to school finance until the regular session, we're going to have a lot of competing needs for money," Dewhurst said to a group of about 250 members of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

Once the Legislature gathers for its biennial session in 2005, Dewhurst said lawmakers' attention will be divided among other funding priorities.

"I'm concerned we won't be able to allocate the resources, we won't have the will to allocate the resources, and we won't be able to cut our local property taxes as much as we need to in order to spur more economic development in the state," he said.

Dewhurst has favored reducing local property taxes by replacing the state's existing franchise tax with a broad-based business tax.

Perry, who has not confirmed speculation that he would call another special session as soon as mid-July, recently said he is gauging whether consensus on the issue can be reached.

"I think there's still a good possibility (of a special session)," Perry said. "The Legislature's making good progress. ... Unless something gets stuck in the machinery to stop it, I see us continuing to move forward."

David Dewhurst isn't anywhere close to being back in my good graces, but he still has a lot more credibility with me than Perry, so if he thinks that something useful can come out of another special session, I'll at least grant the possibility. He's the first person in Austin besides Perry to make this call, though you'll note that he neither addresses the "consensus" question nor the differences between his own ideas and those of Perry, specifically on the scope of the changes desired and the reform of the corporate franchise tax. I'll give his words some weight, but until he and Perry announce that they've come to an agreement among themselves on how to proceed, this strikes me as not much more than wishful thinking.

And speaking of consensus:

Dewhurst said it would be a bad idea for the Legislature to put off addressing school finance until a lawsuit filed by hundreds of school districts charging the state with inadequately funding schools is resolved.

House Speaker Tom Craddick is among those who have advocated waiting for a ruling on the suit, set for trial in August.

"If we wait until next year, next summer, one of two things can happen and they're both bad," Dewhurst said.

If the state loses the suit, Dewhurst said lawmakers "might be inclined to do only the minimum required" to rectify funding issues. If the state wins, he said, lawmakers might not pursue dramatic reforms "because the pressure has been taken off."

I have no doubt that Craddick's wait-and-hope-to-be-taken-off-the-hook approach is popular among the membership. Once again, until that sort of underlying fracture is healed, I say it's all a waste of time.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 16, 2004 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

On 10 June, you wrote:

I am just amazed at how much of a clown our governor is. It's like he expects this to happen by magic....

That was in reference to his thoughts on calling a special session.

David Dewhurst says it, and he's not in your good graces, but you're listening?


Why no clown references?

I'm truly puzzled.

Posted by: kevin whited on June 16, 2004 9:54 PM

What's the puzzle? Dewhurst has more credibility with me than Perry. That isn't saying much, but the clown label doesn't fit him.

Now, if he starts insisting that "progress" is being made even though he and Perry are still on very different pages and nobody else has backed off from their publicly-drawn lines in the sand, and if he starts actively undermining the efforts of other groups who are trying to make progress, then he may work his way towards clownhood. But for now, he still gets respect.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on June 17, 2004 7:27 AM