May 08, 2006
HB4 goes to Perry

The Lege accomplished one task today, passing HB4, the so-called Liar's Affidavit, thus sending it to Governor Perry for a signature.

The House has approved a conference committee version of the “liar’s affidavit” bill.

That bill would require buyers of used cars to use a blue book value when reporting the sales price for tax purposes. The committee stripped from the bill an amendment by Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, that would have prohibited insurance companies from giving customers whose cars are totaled less than the presumed value of the vehicle.

If the Senate also approves the conference committee version, the bill will be sent to Gov. Rick Perry, the second piece of his five-part tax plan to make it to his desk.

According to the Quorum Report, the Senate did just that, by a 21-10 margin. That's two bills that have made it all the way through the process. And HB2 is now out of the Senate and back to the House, where I'd guess it will pass by more or less the same nearly-straight-partisan vote as last time.

Note that all of these bills are tax hikes. The bill that would cut property taxes (HB1) is still languishing in the system, under a death threat from Sen. Florence Shapiro, and its fate is unclear at this point. Gardner Selby wonders what happens if HB1 doesn't pass?

A pause in Senate momentum leaves open the politically torturous (or delicious, depending on vantage point) possibility of Gov. Rick Perry signing into law the business tax boost sitting on his desk, but ending up without a school tax cut to tout as justification.

Another scenario: Perry, seeking re-election in November, ends up vetoing the very business tax he has championed as a route to reform the corporate franchise tax and a financial source for school property tax cuts starting in 2006-07.

His reasoning for a veto might be that he isn’t about to be the governor who signs in higher business taxes without cuts, yet doing so could also doom the tax for good. To bring it back to life, Perry would have to ask senators and House members, many also seeking re-election, for renewed political courage by voting again to send him the business tax in a fresh special session also featuring a tax-cut measure. (Turn those stomachs.)


Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said today that Perry should sign HB 3 “I’m not concerned with the timing,” Dewhurst said, referring to the tax-cut legislation stalled in the Senate. “All these bills will come together.”

Earlier, Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, termed the prospect of Perry signing the hike without a cut “terrible.” He said, instead, that if this special session craters, Perry could quickly call another session to ensure the tax cut happens - and hold off on signing HB 3 until the tax reduction is on his desk.

“I wouldn’t advise him to sign it right now. The clock hasn’t run on it,” Chisum said.

Perry has 20 days to sign bills after adjournment, so he could do as Chisum suggests. I kind of have to think that this is what he'd do, if for no better reason than one could imagine the commercials that would be run against him - "Perry was for the biggest tax hike in history before he was against it". I just can't see him reversing course like that. But hey, not my decision and not my problem. Stock up on the Tums, Governor, the next week will be eventful for you.

And on another note, the math textbook kerfuffle is not going away.

Texas teachers are fuming over a provision in the Senate's education reform bill that would delay the ordering of new math textbooks for elementary school students.

The provision is tucked in a bill that would use part of the state's budget surplus to reduce school property taxes. It was one of several school reform measures a Senate committee added to the bill Friday, including a $2,000 teacher pay raise and bonuses for teachers who raise students' scores on standardized tests.


If it passes, the State Board of Education will have to stop taking bids from publishers for math textbooks that schools are scheduled to receive in 2008.

That's a huge problem for students and teachers because the books they're currently using were adopted in 1998 and don't cover all the topics included in the standardized test the state began using in 2003, said Colleen Clower, the elementary math coordinator for the Denton school district.

For example, a section on charts and graphs in the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills stumped one third-grade class in her district because it wasn't in their textbooks and their teacher wasn't expecting to see so many questions like that on the test, Clower said.

It's even more troublesome for fifth-graders, who have to pass the math section of the TAKS to be promoted to sixth grade.

"If the state has not provided materials like that to every student and teacher, then how can they legitimately test them over it, much less hold them back a grade," said Penny McAdoo, director of elementary mathematics for the Lewisville school district.

I think that's a damn good question, one that every Democrat ought to be asking every day between now and November, especially if HB1 passes as it currently is.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 08, 2006 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

Y'know? I taught in Nevada for darned near 30 years, and thought it was a seriously red state. Then I moved to Texas to be closer to the grandkids, and found out that that glow in the night was only pink. Or (gawd-forbid) purple.

Don't get me wrong. The people I meet on a daily basis are genuinely good people - my neighbors, the folks at the hardware store and the HEB, the congreation at church - these are good, grounded, sensible people. They care about their kids, their communities.

I'm an old-enough hippie to believe that "Keep Austin Weird" has a nice ring to it. But what, in the name of all that's holy, is going on under that spectacular pink dome downtown?

Some of it is just plain stupid.

Or maybe, being new here, I just don't understand?

Posted by: Amerloc on May 8, 2006 9:39 PM

Actually, Amerloc, you have already figured it out. Welcome to Texas where the grass is brown and the noses of the legislators are browner.

Posted by: sabestian on May 9, 2006 7:50 AM

I can get into brown. I have no problem with the color. But MY nose is black. My belly is closer to pink. It's only my coat that is brown.

I have many things to learn yet, but my nose is good. I can smell where the other dog peed.

Posted by: Amerloc on May 10, 2006 9:03 PM