Bell said Gov. Rick Perry and other Republicans have concentrated too much effort on "revenue neutral" school finance plans that pay for local property tax cuts through state tax increases without putting any new money into the public school system.
"I'm not interested in a revenue neutral plan. If you're talking about a revenue neutral finance plan, then you're basically rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," Bell said.
Bell said he will provide details of his school finance plan during the campaign. When asked the price tag, he said: "It's several billion dollars if you are going to be serious about improving public schools and meeting some of these other challenges."
"The message obviously will center around education. The new mainstream here in the state of Texas is most concerned with that issue, and not just public school finance but with the quality of public schools," Bell said.
Bell said he thinks additional funding is needed to allow smaller class sizes and teacher pay raises. He said he also wants to give more control to local school boards and de-emphasize standardized tests.
He said he would pay for increased spending on education by broadening the state's business taxes, much like the plan proposed by Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.
Bell said an income tax is off the table.
"I just don't think it's realistic," Bell said. "People are not going to vote to implement an income tax."
Bell said he is not afraid of being attacked for advocating a tax increase for education.
"At some point, our elections are going to be driven by pure rhetoric or people are going to wake up and be really willing to look at the facts," Bell said.
"Rick Perry has basically tried to tell people that state government can meet all their needs ... and they don't have to pay a penny more. People are waking up to the fact that is completely false."
On the other hand, the second difference between the two stories is that Bell actually talked about issues, while Friedman did his usual quippage. Maybe that explains why Friedman has gotten more coverage overall, too.
Anyway. Bell is in, I presume Felix Alvarado will file at some point if he hasn't already, and no word yet from Bob Gammage or anyone else. Stay tuned.Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 10, 2005 to Election 2006 | TrackBack