May 13, 2006
Weekend session wrapup

According to QR and the Dallas Blog, the Senate has just about wrapped up all of the business in front of it, meaning that they and the State House will get the weekend off. At this point, there's nothing else to do except wait for the tax hikes and spending cuts that will follow in the next session to make up for the revenue shortfalls that are built into all these bills.

Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden said the school finance plan is the "biggest shift in methodology for funding public schools in our history."

"We're basically saying that the state must assume at least 50 percent of the responsibility for funding our schools," he said.

But the Bryan Republican admitted that the huge property tax cut could make it difficult for the state to pay for health care, prisons and other needs in the coming years.

He said the options then will be to cut state programs or raise other taxes.

"We will not have as much free cash flow if we cut taxes to $1 than if we didn't," he said. "I recognized there could be some problems in the future beyond 2008, but I thought they would all be manageable in some way, so I said, 'Let's go!' "

Ogden said provisions included in the bill will help reduce appraisal growth by lowering the trigger for a tax-rate rollback.

If you need this boiled down to sound bites, this was a bigger tax cut than we could afford, and we will be forced to pay for it in other ways next year and beyond. But hey, at least everyone can go into November saying they passed a bill to lower property taxes this year. Who cares about what happens after the election?

That's all I've got for now. Read Capitol Annex, PinkDome, and Eye on Williamson for more.

One last item is the denunciation of standardized testing by Rep. Cheri Isett, who is filling in this session for her husband Carl, currently serving with the National Guard in Kuwait. Her full speech is here (Word doc).

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 13, 2006 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack