August 21, 2005
Some special session wrapups

A little Sunday reading for those who aren't quite ready to let Special SessionPalooza fade into history just yet.

'Robin Hood' Ratliff says money's the answer

Q: The governor and many Republican legislators say more money for the schools isn't the only answer. They insist on imposing various "reforms" in how schools are administered. What do you think?

A: I happen to think that it is mainly a matter of money. Maybe some more reforms could be done, but if the current accountability system is administered fairly, schools will put the money where it's needed. Many of these proposed changes would put the state back to micromanaging the education system, which we tried to get away from in 1995 (with another major education bill). At that time, the Legislature decided it was best for the state to set out what students should know and when they should know it and let school districts decide how to accomplish that goal. I still believe that's the right approach.

Clay Robison:

I believed and wrote in early June that it would be pointless (and risky) for Gov. Rick Perry to call a special session if House Speaker Tom Craddick didn't agree to it and, in essence, get to dictate the school funding and tax relief terms.

Craddick already had warned the governor that he wanted to wait for the Texas Supreme Court to decide the state's appeal of a school finance lawsuit before requiring the Legislature to tackle the difficult issue again.

But Perry called one 30-day session and then another, and both failed, largely because Craddick never changed his mind.

The speaker was key because an increase in state taxes would be required to cut school property taxes, a goal more important to Perry and many Republican lawmakers than actually improving education. The state constitution requires the House take the first action on tax bills.


Perry tried. But the minimal plan he offered for education funding and property tax relief at the beginning of the summer didn't inspire success. It sold Texas short because it would have failed to provide the tax and revenue overhaul that the schools need.

Unlike the governor, Dewhurst and Craddick Dewhurst more convincingly have advocated a new, broad-based business tax to more adequately fund education and more fairly tap into the state's emerging 21st century economy.

But that idea, which would have made the effort worthwhile, wilted quickly in the long, hot, wasted summer.

Blame the PTA:

If state leaders must blame some group outside the Capitol, they can blame the Texas PTA and our 650,000 members. Parents who have written tens of thousands of e-mail messages and letters and placed hundreds and hundreds of phone calls to elected officials. You can blame the parents and taxpayers of this state for not allowing the Legislature to push through inadequate funding for our children's education and harmful regulatory changes disguised as "reforms."


Why can't the Legislature pass something? You can blame PTA for that because parents told lawmakers that no bill is better than a bad bill and all the leadership proposed were bad school finance bills.

We are the Texas PTA 650,000 parents, teachers and others who care about children. And taxpayers. You can blame PTA if you want. But if you think there have been lots of calls, letters and e-mails in the past three years, just wait. Keep under-funding our children's schools, keep trying to disguise political agendas as "reforms," keep protecting the tax system that favors the business community, keep using textbook money for other purposes, keep squabbling amongst yourselves over your own petty agendas.

If you think you have heard from parents and taxpayers already, just wait. What you have heard before is a gentle spring rain of discontent compared to the ocean of disappointment and frustration that is ready to wash up on your shores.

Read 'em all.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 21, 2005 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

Concerning both Clay Robison and the PTA:

Robison's predictable bilge has filled the pages of the Chron for many years, he is a long-time advocate of higher taxes, and every session he manages to trot out the absurd, tired old arguments for something Texas will never have, a state income tax.

Robison's articles are one of the many reasons the Chron has absolutely no credibility with the public as a reliable or trustworthy newspaper, not to mention as a fount of editorial wisdom.

Concerning the PTA, this statement from the same letter quoted above is typical of the PTA's state leadership cabal:

"You can blame PTA for demanding that adequate funding for public education come before property tax reduction. We are at a loss as to why the leadership is consumed with lowering a tax rate that is set by an elected body, your local school board."

We'll ignore for the moment the glaring inaccuracy of Tounget's description of the school tax system.

People like Mr. Tounget, the PTA state executive director who penned the letter, have given the PTA's state "leadership" group a bad name with citizens andtaxpayers across the state.

Mr. Tounget is one of the reasons why our local school districts, for example, spend hundreds of millions of dollars on football stadiums and $100,000-a-year coaches.

His and the state PTA leadership's "give 'em anything they want no matter how badly they spend it" attitude is not a popular attitude in Texas.

And if he really believes his own propoganda, ie, that the Texas PTA has 650,000 active members who agree with him on the tax-and-spend issues, then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to show him.

In every school election I've been involved in, PTA members have been active pro-taxpayer, anti-"tax and spend", anti-educrat members of the campaign.

As a rule, it's usually the local long-time PTA "leadership" cabal, and not the grassroots volunteers, who side with the school district bureaucrats in such issues.

These local "leadership" cabals are popularly known by the handle the local citizens and taxpayers across Texas have given them: the "administration groupies" or "administration lap dogs."

In contradistinction to the "administration lap dogs", the grassroots members of the PTA are just as concerned with run-away property taxes and the run-away fiscal mismanagemnt of our schools by the educrats as anyone else, and they favor property tax reduction and the reform of school district fiscal management and spending policies.

They do not agree with the "tax, spend, waste it, and tax some more" philosophy of the state PTA "leadership" cabal.

Posted by: ttyler5 on August 22, 2005 5:22 AM

It doesn't matter how much money we give to the schools. They'll always seem to find a way to convince the people that they need more.

Posted by: Tim on August 22, 2005 9:03 AM

Ah, yes, count on ttyler to instruct us all that the leadership of the PTA don't really know what the PTA wants.

Tell us, oh wise one, what evil plot rests at the heart of the diabolical PTA? Lemme guess: more money for schools, so that teachers don't have to spend their own meagre salaries on school supplies? Or maybe a wicked scheme to place more math and science teachers in inner city schools? Oh, the horror, the horror!

Posted by: Locutor on August 22, 2005 11:42 AM

Locutor, did my previous warning to you just go in your left ear, pass through your vacuous skull, and go out your other left ear?

Let me restate it: you haven't got the slightest idea what you are talking about, and we have nothing to say to each other.

Posted by: ttyler5 on August 22, 2005 3:44 PM

OK, you two. Enough of that. Let's talk about the issues, or I'll close comments on this post.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on August 22, 2005 4:01 PM

Sorry, Kuff. Back on the issues.

Posted by: ttyler5 on August 22, 2005 11:59 PM