Now that David Dewhurst has said no more legislation until school finance is finished, one might wonder how that's going.
Five senators and five representatives are trying to work out their differences before the 30-day special session ends Wednesday. Many of the differences are the same ones that could not be resolved during the regular session earlier this year.
Issues still being debated include teacher pay raises, funding for schools with high numbers of low-income and non-English-speaking students, shifting from textbooks to computers, and how much in local school taxes property-wealthy districts must share with other districts.
Negotiators on HB 3, the related tax bill, scheduled a public meeting for today.
That committee is trying to decide how much to cut local school property taxes and how to pay for those cuts.
"The numbers were drastically different in the House version and the Senate," noted Speaker Tom Craddick, R-Midland.
One Senate negotiator on the tax bill, Sen. Juan Hinojosa, D-McAllen, said it was on "life support."
"That would be a fair assessment," said Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa.
Rep. David Swinford, R-Amarillo, said, "I'd say it's on life support every day. Tax bills are hard to pass."
But he said he remains optimistic that the House and Senate will reach an agreement on a tax bill.
Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, co-chairman of the tax-writing conference committee, said he cannot begin negotiations feeling pessimistic.
"As chairman of the committee, I don't want to go in with that kind of negative attitude," Keffer said, "but we're not going to pass anything (just) to pass anything."
What's Rick Perry been up to during all this? Well, he's applying pressure where he thinks it needs to be applied.
Already, the Senate has ceded a restructured business tax under pressure from Perry and opposition from the House.
"The fact of the matter is, during this short special session, coming up with a new business tax wasn't going to go anywhere, it wasn't going to pass the House," Perry said.
More importantly, of course, Perry is tending to his reelection campaign.
This is Governor Rick Perry. Letís send a message to legislators in Austin. Tell them you want a property tax cut. All corporations to pay their fair share. And more education for your money, not just more money for education. Letís close tax loopholes. Make home ownership more affordable. And put more money into the classroom.
Itís time to act on the 3 RísÖ Results, resources and reform for Texas schools.
Elsewhere, State Sen Eliot Shapleigh has vowed to filibuster if the final package includes a sales tax hike greater than one-half percent. Latinos for Texas brings us a letter from Rep. Mike Villareal to his daughter explaining why HB3 stinks, a column from Carlos Guerra on the same subject, and a lament from the San Antonio Independent School District that they expect to get shafted when all is said and done. The Jeffersonian also comments on that.
And last but not least, a few suggestions from John Kelso as to how the Lege could have better spent its time this week.Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 15, 2005 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack