June 18, 2005
School funding vetoed, special session called

It's official.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry today vetoed the state's $35.3 billion public education budget and called lawmakers back to the Capitol to finally find a solution to the school finance dilemma.

"I recognize this is a bold step, and frankly one I wrestled with," Perry said.

"Ultimately, I determined this action was necessary to ensure we fully fund our schools, provide needed reforms in the classroom, and pass real and substantial property tax relief," he said.

Without state funds, K-12 schools will struggle to educate Texas' 4.3 million students when the new school year starts in August.

Such a scenario could give lawmakers who have been uninspired to find a school finance solution the impetus they need to get the job done.

The special session, set to begin Tuesday, will mark the Legislature's fourth attempt to take up school finance in the last three years, including the last two regular sessions. Perry called a special session last spring, but it ended in failure.

Perry had said he would only call lawmakers back if House and Senate leaders were ready to agree on a plan.

House Speaker Tom Craddick said in an interview Friday with a Midland television station that leaders "have no agreement or no plan that we've agreed upon at all at this point."

This feels more like brinksmanship than boldness to me. We've talked about the concept of "as Craddick goes, so goes school finance reform" before, and we see here that Craddick hasn't changed his tune. Maybe Perry is determined to outmuscle him, or maybe he thinks he can get some of the same "for the good of the Party" help he must have gotten to get KBH to change her mind. Maybe Craddick is saying different things to Perry than he is to the newspapers. I don't know. I do know that Chris is right when he says "Perry better have consensus, or he's toast." I just don't see how he survives another failure. And just to make things more interesting, merely solving school finance reform probably isn't enough to satisfy some folks.

It's gonna be a fun 30 days, that's all I know. Oh, and just out of curiosity, what's the record for most special sessions called by a Texas governor? This one's #5 by my count.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on June 18, 2005 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

Dang, I just don't know if we can get up to Austin before this session is over. And I so want to get reprimanded by another page for doing something completely innocuous. Guess I'll just have to hope that they'll be as ineffective in this session as they were in the, what, three? they had in 2003.

Posted by: Sue on June 19, 2005 9:11 AM

When one compares a list of Texas governors with a list of all the regular and special sessions of the Texas Legislature, it looks like Perry has a ways to go yet. For instance, Bill Clements called eleven special sessions: three in the 67th Legislature, two in the 70th, and six in the 71st.

In fact, it looks like George W. Bush is the oddity: he's only the second governor since Reconstruction not to call a special session. The other was Beauford Jester, who died in office on July 11, 1949.

Posted by: Kenneth Fair on June 21, 2005 3:29 PM