Saturday, August 20, 2005

More On The Failed, At Least As Far As The Schools Are Concerned, Special Session

The Houston Chronicle has a good wrap-up of the session here, Top Texas leaders flunk their legislative achievement tests as second special session draws to a close:
The only people with reason to smile as the clock runs out on the second special session of the dismal 79th Texas Legislature are lobbyists who fought new business taxes and delivered a tasty telecom bill opening the cable TV market for SBC and Verizon. The Legislature also took care of its own, approving a judicial pay raise that also boosted lawmakers' pensions.
The Waco Tribune-Herald has this one, Politicians may soon learn failure to act has consequences. It even has Rep. Dan Gattis poking his head out - still no word from Rep. Krusee:
"It's frustrating to me that they could have a regular session and two special sessions and not figure out what to do with the schools," said Fred Bierschenk of Pflugerville. "That's close to criminal. They're being paid to do a job, and they're not doing it."

[and]

Like Baxter, Rep. Dan Gattis, R-Georgetown, voted for the school finance plan pushed by House leaders and now must explain why it or any other legislation did not make it into law.

"There is a percentage of this Texas House that will not vote on any school bill or any tax bill until the court legislates from the bench and gives them the cover to do it," Gattis said. "They want to be able to go home and say, 'I didn't really want to do this, but the courts made me.' And that's not leadership."
First, voting for the school finance plan pushed by the House leaders means he was for raising taxed on everyone that makes under $100,000/per year. Second Speaker Craddick is the one that wants to wait for the courts, and Rep. Gattis is right Craddick did not show leadership:
Craddick has repeatedly suggested the that Legislature wait to make changes until the Texas Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of the current school-finance system. That ruling is expected soon. The court ruling, he said, will let lawmakers and school officials know how much, if any, new money schools need.
The Waco Tirbune-Herald article, linked above, has this scorecard from the second special session:
Legislative scorecard

Republican Gov. Rick Perry called a second special session of the summer July 21 to change the state's school finance system and to address several other items. Here are some of the measures that passed or failed.

Passed


* Telecommunications: Allows companies that want to offer TV services to get a statewide franchise rather than go to each city to get a franchise.

* Eminent domain: Limits state and local governments from taking private property if the primary purpose is for economic development.

* Judicial pay: Gives state judges a pay raise and boosts the pension payments for legislators, whose retirement plans are linked to state district judges' salaries.

Failed

* •Education spending: Would have provided billions of additional dollars for education spending, including money for teacher pay raises.

* •Property taxes: Would have reduced Texans' local school property taxes and replaced that education money with changes to the state business tax and increases in other taxes, such as the sales tax.
Now that's leadership. Pass nothing the session was called to fix and pass a huge give-away to the biggest lobbying interest in the state, a retirement raise for yourself and a bipartisan eminent domain bill. See what I mean?



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