Wednesday, June 29, 2005

13 Hours And That's All You Could Come Up With!?

Yesterday the House barely passed a bill that would supposedly revamp our states' school finance system. From the Austin American Statesman we get this, House OKs plan for school spending:
The House education plan won approval on a 77-69 vote in a body that has 25 more Republicans than Democrats. Every Central Texas Republican in the House voted for the plan, and every local Democrat opposed it. (In case you are wondering what your representatives did.)

[and]

Education groups have said inflation and new mandates will quickly eat up that money and not leave enough to help all students meet the state's growing academic demands.

Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, said a group of school superintendents told him Monday that they'd rather see the Legislature keep the current system in place than pass Grusendorf's plan.

"I am hard-pressed to ignore the opinions of people we have chosen to preside over our local school districts," he said.
Earlier in the day the Democratic plan was killed by one vote when Speaker Tom Craddick cast the tiebreaking vote. We get this from The Dallas Morning News, House approves school plan :
At one point Tuesday, House Democrats came close to substituting their school finance alternative for the plan drafted by GOP leaders, but House Speaker Tom Craddick broke a tie vote and helped defeat the minority party's proposal on a 75-74 vote.

The Democratic plan called for more tax relief for homeowners, higher taxes on business and a much larger pay raise for teachers. About a dozen Republicans broke party ranks and voted for the Democratic proposal.

Hanging over Tuesday's debate was the current legislative impasse over what taxes should be increased to pay for a massive reduction in school property taxes. That issue is still to be taken up in the special session. The regular session ended with no agreement on school finance as House leaders pressed for higher consumer taxes while Senate leaders held out for higher business taxes to pay for property tax relief.
That's some good framing there. Look at all those things Democrats want to do, lower taxes on HOMEOWNERS, raise taxes on business and pay teachers more. Who could be against that? So what does it do and now that it passed the House what happens? The Houston Chronicle has this, School finance measure clears House:
It now goes to the Senate.

A companion tax bill to pay for the new school finance system is being debated in the House Ways and Means Committee.

House Bill 2 would cut school property taxes by 40 cents per $100 of valuation and spend $2.5 billion for teacher pay raises, new programs and technology.

It would delay the start of school until after Labor Day and replace the 11th-grade standardized test with subject exams.

The legislation also would institute state and local incentive-pay programs for teachers and allow struggling schools to be turned over to private companies. Teacher and education groups are opposed to the measure, which is substantially the same as one passed by the House during the regular legislative session earlier this year.
13 hours of debate and all they could come up with!? All they did was send pretty much the same bill they passed during the regular session back to the Senate. As far as I'm concerned one of the biggest things to take away from this is the fact that 12 Republicans voted for the Democratic plan. All of this shows that no plan that is up for debate right now has enthusiastic support. Which to me means if anything gets passed this session it will be weak and we will have to be revisit this issue once again in the near future.

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