Some of us may think that it's high time for a sine die motion in the House, but State Rep. Pete Gallego does not. He's hand-delivered a letter to Speaker Tom Craddick imploring him to let the House get back to work. Click the More link for the full text of his letter.
August 8, 2005
The Honorable Tom Craddick
Speaker, Texas House of Representatives
Texas State Capitol - Room 2W.13
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, Texas 78768
Dear Mr. Speaker:
I read with interest on Friday your statements in the press wherein you suggest that the Legislature is "wasting time and money" by being in Special Session, and you declared it "unproductive to prolong this process." You suggested we adjourn sine die and punt the issue of school finance to the courts. I fundamentally disagree with this suggestion.
I respectfully write to provide notice that I object to any motion made to sine die prior to the end of the 30 day period set aside for the special session. If such a motion is offered, I hereby object and ask for a record vote with strict enforcement - each member casting only his or her own vote. As you know, pursuant to Rule 5, Section 1, the House cannot do business (or adjourn sine die) without a quorum.
The kids that I represent need textbooks. The teachers I represent need health insurance and a pay raise. The homeowners I represent would appreciate lower property taxes. It is unconscionable to give up and allow kids to go back to school while millions of dollars worth of textbooks sit unused in a warehouse. As someone with many conservative views, I believe it is the Legislature's duty to write a school finance bill, not the Court's.
Your intention to give up runs contrary to the wide support shown on the House floor for the Democratic alternative to HB 2. Our plan (offered as the Hochberg Amendment) is the only school finance plan to receive broad, bi-partisan support on the House floor this year. A clear majority (including every House Democrat and 14 House Republicans) supported this plan.
More and more House Republicans are suggesting privately that there are now 85 or 90 votes for this alternative. Many of us who support the Hochberg alternative continue to show up in Austin, with our sleeves rolled up, ready to work in good faith with any interested parties to solve the school finance mess.
The regular and special sessions have made it a long and grueling year for us all. While I also could use a break, the people I represent sent me here to solve problems, not to give up in despair in the middle of a school finance crisis.
The work we are doing on school finance is vitally important to millions of kids, millions of parents, millions of homeowners, and hundreds of thousands of Texas teachers. I do not believe it is good public policy to shun all of these Texans when the Texas House has already shown it can pass a bi-partisan school finance plan.
Texans expect us to work until we find a solution. Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst and the Senate continue to show up everyday to work toward a school finance solution. Governor Perry even cancelled a trip to Japan to stick around and work on school finance. The Governor has said if we "want to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Festivus here, that's fine" because we are "staying until we get it done." Taking the Governor at his word, why should we adjourn sine die if the Governor is merely going to keep calling us back "until we get it done"?
I ask that the House begin hearings on the proposal offered by Mr. Hochberg. I know that the equivalent of the Ellis/Eltife plan is also being filed in the House. These alternatives deserve to be heard and debated by the full House. With so much important work still left undone, it would be a mistake to admit total failure and simply adjourn sine die.
Thank you in advance for your consideration. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. Should you have any questions or concerns, I will be in my Capitol office before we convene, and I will be on the House Floor at 2:00 p.m.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 08, 2005 to Budget ballyhoo
Pete P. Gallego