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Crocodile tears over the school finance lawsuit

This is little more than blaming the victim.

Sen. Tommy Williams

A state judge is expected to rule next week on whether the school finance system is broken, but lawmakers aren’t anywhere near ready to launch repairs.

Instead, Republican leaders plan to wait for an appeal and a final Texas Supreme Court ruling so they know exactly what they are forced to do.

In a twist, some of their rhetoric seems to suggest school districts have only themselves to blame for the postponement of hopes of restoring funds cut back from education two years ago.

The delay in acting is business-as-usual for the Legislature, which as an institution typically waits as education funding problems get bad enough to prompt a lawsuit by school districts. Then lawmakers wait some more, until the state’s highest court outlines the parameters of the mess they must fix.

Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, said at a hearing last week that lawmakers should pay attention to those who want funding restored for key education programs.

But Williams also stressed the need to weigh that against other education-related funding demands, and he repeated his belief that the ongoing lawsuit makes it difficult for lawmakers to put in additional money for anything other than enrollment growth.

He also seemed to suggest that school districts used the courthouse as an alternative to discussion, odd to those who remember quite a school funding debate in the 2011 legislative session.

“I wish the school districts would sit down and talk to us,” Williams said. “It really ties our hands when they file a lawsuit.”

Please. There was plenty of talk two years ago when the Lege slashed $5.4 billion from public education. How much did you or your colleagues listen then, Tommy? It’s only now that the schools may have the upper hand that the Legislature is talking about the importance of having a dialog. Well, it’s too late now, but I’m sure after Judge Dietz issues his ruling next week there will be opportunity anew for discussion. Let’s not waste it then.

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