Thursday, July 21, 2005

It's A Really Bad Bill

There were two press conferences today, you can find them both here. One with Lt. Gov Dewhurst and Speaker Craddick and the other with several Democratic Representatives.

What Dewhurst and Craddick said can basically be summed like this. Check out how small Dewhurst makes Craddick look:
  • We're close
  • I had the votes to pass it (Dewhurst)
  • I had the votes to pass it (Craddick)
  • HB 2 is a good bill, really, I'm serious, I'm not just saying that
  • HB 2 is revolutionary (Dewhurst)
  • Educators never like any school finance bill (Dewhurst), no matter how much money we give them (Craddick)
  • We're frustrated
  • It's a good bill
  • We're very close
  • We've made progress
  • It's Sen. Whitmire's fault
  • We're even closer than close, I mean we are so close.....

The Democrats said things a little different.
  • HB 2 is a bad bill, really, we're not just saying that
  • If it's so good why are they negotiating in secret
  • Did you know that SBC was lobbying members to pass HB 2 so they could get their telecom bill passed too?
  • The House has only white males on it's Conference, now Select Committees
  • Everyone is focusing on whether there will be an agreement, not what the agreement will be
  • This is a bad bill, educators were calling members all day telling them to vote against it
  • The House/Craddick didn't have the votes or they would have voted on it
  • The Senate/Dewhurst didn't have the votes or they would have voted on it
  • It's a really bad bill

OffTheKuff has his great commentary here, The endless legislative summer continues . He asks this question:
What I want to know is this: What happens if the Perry/Craddick/Dewhurst triumvirate push a bill through the joint committee process, and it gets voted down by one or both chambers? Do they give up and send everyone home, or do they try the radical concept of taking a different approach, one that doesn't involve raising taxes on 90% of the population in order to give Highland Park a much-needed break?
Good question. It's a good bill. There is one part from today's Statesman article I won't to highlight here about what educators said about HB 2:
Supporters of the bill said that it provides more money for small schools and for students who speak limited English and that it gives schools greater flexibility in deciding how to pay their teachers. They've also cheered the fact that it reduces the amount of money that property-wealthy school districts send to the rest of the state.

"More of those new dollars are spent in the classroom than ever before," said Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano. "It provides more equity than this state has ever seen before. It provides more property-tax relief."

School officials have complained that the Legislature's plans for school finance reform imposes too many new requirements on districts, including one that would have forced schools to spend at least 65 percent of their money on classroom instruction.

"It's going to be a 10 to 13 percent cut across the board in non-instructional programs," Moak said. "Non-instructional programs include counseling; they include food service; they include health services; they include school discipline activities."
That's a really good bill?

My take on all of this is that maybe at some point in time the goal actually may have actually been to improve schools in Texas and lower property taxes for most, if not all, Texans. Now, after this has been run through the meat grinder of the Texas legislature for the last two regulars sessions and too many special sessions, I believe the goal now, for those running Texas, is to just pass something, anything, no matter how good or bad it may be. It's a really bad bill! I mean it!

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