Thursday, November 10, 2005

This Week In School Finance (TWISF)..."icky Ricky"

Let's begin by remembering the fact that the Supreme Court still hasn't released it's ruling on school finance that was due on October 1st. Their rulings, as I've learned, are usually released on a Friday - this Friday/tomorrow being Veterans Day - I think it's safe to assume the ruling wouldn't be released until next Friday at the earliest. Today from this article, New theory for lack of school ruling in the Statesman we get some new speculation on why the ruling hasn't been released yet:
Paul Burka of Texas Monthly told an insider's conference on the 2006 elections last weekend that Perry has prevailed upon Jefferson to shelve the court's verdict until after party primaries March 7, sparing Perry and legislative candidates (especially incumbents) from having to hem and haw on how to please the court.
When I read that I couldn't help but think of this oldie-but-goodie:
In typically ham-fisted fashion, Gov. Rick Perry has unnecessarily raised questions about the independence of the Texas Supreme Court.

The governor recently told a private meeting of about 30 people from Highland Park and University Park in Dallas that he was confident the Texas Supreme Court would reject any challenge to the state's school finance system.

According to a report in Wednesday's edition of The Dallas Morning News, based on an interview with John Carpenter, president of the Highland Park school board, Perry told the group, "Well, I've talked to my attorney, and I've also appointed five of the justices of the Supreme Court and helped the sixth get elected, so I'm confident that the state is going to win."

...

Anyone is free to predict what a court will do. But Perry's predictions carry weight because he actually appointed three of the court's nine members, Scott Brister, Wallace Jefferson and Michael Schneider; he soon will appoint a replacement for Chief Justice Tom Phillips, who is retiring; and he has strongly pushed the candidacy of Paul Green, who is expected to win a seat on the court in the November election.
Of course everyone in the article thinks that Burka's comments are in now way accurate and are quick to shoot them down:
Houston lawyer David Thompson, representing school districts in the lawsuit, said he doesn't know how the court could sit on such a vital opinion.

"I don't put any stock in that," Thompson said.

Perry's press secretary, Kathy Walt, called the charge "absolutely untrue and irresponsible."

Jefferson said: "There has been no communication from the court, from any representative of this court, from any political organization, lobbyist or agent of the governor's office or employee who has communicated any request to or from me on school finance whatsoever."
Sounds like he hit a nerve. The question is would Gov. Perry do something like this, or use the issue of school finance for his own personal political gain? Well the Star-Telegram thinks "icky Ricky" may be doing just that with his latest teacher pay raise edict:
There's nothing really wrong with Gov. Rick Perry's executive order issued last week to create an incentive pay program for high-performing teachers in economically disadvantaged schools. In fact, of course, it's a good thing to pay good teachers as much as possible.

It's just that Perry's plan, so obviously grandstanding for the sake of his re-election campaign, feels so ... so ... well, icky.

...

If 75 percent of the money goes to teachers in awards of $3,000 each (what lawmakers contemplated, but they had a $100 million program in mind), only about 3 percent of the state's roughly 300,000 teachers would get the cash.

That's not much, but be charitable and call it a pilot program, a start, a down payment ... whatever.

A less-than-charitable description might be "campaign gimmick."
It is just gossip and speculation but if this was the intended purpose is this an effort to force Perry and his judges to bring out the decision before the primaries? Only time will tell


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