House Republicans still going after education


Republicans again tried to take away a Democratic victory today.

This time, Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, was successful as he pushed for a motion to instruct conferees to strip the spirit of an eduction-related amendment by Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, from Senate Bill 2, a key state budget bill.

The motion was adopted 87-59.

Howard managed to garner enough Republican support last week to pass an amendment that would allow the state to spend as much as $2.2 billion from the rainy day fund on education if the fund collects more than Comptroller Susan Combs has projected over the next two years, as is widely expected.

King argued the next day that House conservatives would be violating their promise not to mess with the rainy day fund, if they sided with Howard. But he failed to get enough votes — two-thirds of the chamber — to remove the provision that has become known around the Capitol as “the Howard amendment.”

Not giving up, King on Thursday took his last opportunity to try to undo the Howard amendment: the motion to instruct, which merely makes a request of a conference committee.

Howard said from the floor that the issue is not about scorecards — a reference to pressure from conservative groups that rate lawmakers — and it’s not about appearing conservative enough for primary elections.

“This is about doing what’s right,” she said loudly from the floor. “We’re short-changing our schools.”

Haters gonna hate, I guess. The good news is that this isn’t binding, and I’d bet there’s enough support on the Senate side to keep this in. But we’ll see. To me, the important point is that it was Democrats who proposed this and got it passed, and Republicans who have been attacking it. Coming at a time when education is seen as the most important issue facing the state, that’s a distinction I’ll be happy to point out.

In the meantime, the House also approved the teacher furlough bill, and added a bunch of amendments to Sen. Shapiro’s education bills, none of which were particularly friendly to teachers. Ed Sills discussed one that wasn’t mentioned elsewhere in his email newsletter:

Rep. Myra Crownover, R-Lake Dallas, gained passage of an amendment that would direct any dues membership organization “for whom membership fees or dues are deducted,” including Texas AFT, to “annually provide written notice to the employee of the total amount of dues deducted by the district for the year in order to be entitled to receive payments from the district under this section.”

This is an obnoxious paperwork requirement in the vein of some of the proposals in the “Paycheck Deception” bill that died in a House committee earlier this year. Workers who join a union and voluntarily ask for dues to be deducted from their paychecks know how much is deducted; the information is on one’s pay stub each pay period. This is a nuisance idea at best and an attempt to nudge workers to reconsider membership at worst.

Never miss an opportunity to push ideology. As with the other issues, it’s all on the conference committee now. Rep. Garnet Coleman has more.

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