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Senate tries again on school finance

The Senate is trying to salvage some form of school finance reform from this week’s special session wreckage, with Sen. Florence Shapiro doing the heavy lifting.

Action planned Monday Late Thursday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and Senate Education Chairwoman Florence Shapiro announced that a revised education bill will be heard by the committee Monday.

The measure was rewritten to meet the objections of school superintendents and other educators whom they blamed for thwarting the Legislature’s progress.


Two provisions removed Shapiro said the new Senate education bill would delete two provisions that had been particularly objectionable to superintendents — a uniform school start date after Labor Day and November elections for school board members.

She said the bill, like previous proposals, would include a teacher pay raise, more oversight of charter schools and increased accountability standards. She said it would include the same amount of new money — almost $3 billion in the next two years — for the public schools but that superintendents would be given more “discretion” in how some of the money was spent.

The two major alterations are on things that don’t particularly get me all that fired up, though I can certainly sympathize with the “local control” arguments regarding each. Beyond that, it’s the same old porridge in a different bowl. The only way it can realistically ever get to a vote is if the House takes another stab at a tax bill, since only the House can originate tax legislation and House rules state that once a bill is voted down, as HB3 was by a 124-8 margin, it can’t resurrected unless it’s substantially different (though the Speaker is generally given some latitude on this point). Once again, unless Tom Craddick has had a change of heart, I don’t see him wanting to make his minions vote on a tax bill unless and until the Supremes make him do it.

In related reading, this DMN article gives a good overview of how the opposition to HB2 eventually succeeded. As Eye on Williamson notes, maybe having a special session on school finances during the summer when all the superintendants and teachers have more free time on their hands wasn’t such a hot idea after all.

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