SBOE redistricting

The House Redistricting Committee gets to work.

It would be easier to draw new State Board of Education districts to reflect the state’s booming Hispanic population growth if there were more than 15 seats, a state lawmaker said Friday while calling for a study to expand the board.

House Redistricting Chairman Burt Solomons said Friday the current 15 districts are too large and unwieldy. He said he will ask House Speaker Joe Straus for an interim study to determine a better way to configure the State Board of Education.

Meanwhile, the new map that Solomons, R-Carrollton, has drawn for those 15 seats needs additional work, some said, because it does not accommodate Hispanic growth. Although Hispanics represent about two-thirds of the state’s population growth, critics note the proposed map would dilute one of the three existing Hispanic districts.

“With the current 15 members and the districts being so large, there’s only so much you can do,” Solomons said.

The current districts each will have about 1.7 million people. Some of the districts anchored in west Texas take 12 hours to drive from one end to the other.

“That’s not exactly what I would call reasonable,” Solomons said. “I don’t know what the answer is, but at the end of the day, you can’t have districts that are going to have 2.5 million people (after the 2020 Census). You will have to do something.”

Couple points to make. First, I completely agree that 1.7 million people per district, with some of these districts being larger than most states, is ridiculous. I seem to recall that there was briefly an amendment in some large bill from the last legislative session that would have significantly changed the nature of the SBOE, but it didn’t make it into any final bill; I can’t find a citation for this, but I know it happened. In any event, I’m of the opinion that State Senate districts are starting to get too big, and that we ought to consider expanding that body to reduce the size of each individual district, so bringing the SBOE a little closer to the people appeals to me, if we’re going to have it around at all. And get used to hearing phrases like “reflect the state’s booming Hispanic population growth”, because some variation of it is going to come up at pretty much every single redistricting-related hearing. As well they should. If you want more, Greg has number-crunching, map commentary, and a liveblog of the House hearing on SBOE redistricting, which was short and sweet. Check ’em out.

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