July 15, 2005
How's that joint committee process going?

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."

Just fills you full of confidence, doesn't it?

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.

So remember, when those higher taxes on beer, smokes, and other consumer goods comes through, it's because Rick Perry decided it was easier to roll Dewhurst than Tom Craddick. One must admit that one can see the logic in that calculation.

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.

Emphasis mine. The whole thing is completely divorced from reality, but the bit I've highlighted is especially egregious given recent events.

At least, as PinkDome reports, Rep. Marc Veasey has joined in with Garnet Coleman in running a more truthful ad.

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

If Dewhurst blocks the eminent domain legislation and thus prevents Texas voters from righting a horrible Supreme Court decision in November, then I think we need to come up with an economic development project that needs the land under his house.

Posted by: Tim on July 15, 2005 2:14 PM

Tim, that legislation has already passed the Senate, though there are some differences with the House still to be worked out. If it fails to be on the ballot in November, it'll be because of a failure in the joint committee to resolve the differences.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on July 15, 2005 2:52 PM

Yeah, but my understanding on reading today's Chron piece was that Dewhurst would still "hold hostage" everything else until school finance was done. Would that prevent the conference committee from working on it? Remember, I've only been in Texas for two years, so I don't have all the procedure down cold yet.

The whole thing stinks anyway. I do think the current school funding system needs to be fixed, but as much as property taxes are too high and the courts may be foretelling the end of Robin Hood, I'm not sure anything I've heard is an improvement.

Posted by: Tim on July 15, 2005 5:25 PM