Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Bell Calls For Teacher Pay Raise, Strayhorn Piggy-Backs

I found out about Chris Bell's plan to raise teacher pay yesterday from BOR, Chris Bell Calls For Teacher Pay Raise. Looked like a good idea and a great way to attack the governor who only wants to give a select few teachers a pay raise. You can also read about "Put the schools back in school finance":
Surrounded by local Democratic elected officials, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell accused Rick Perry of pursuing temporary solutions and ignoring schools in the run-up to the special session on school finance.

"Rick Perry'’s biggest priority is to pass a tax cut," said Bell, who helped pass a property tax cut on the Houston City Council. "My top priority is different. Texas can have the best public schools in the country, but only if we avoid a fiscal 'sugar rush' that would use $1 billion from the budget surplus to soothe our craving for a tax cut at the expense of a balanced revenue diet for our schools."
Who were those local elected officials?
Big thanks to Sen. Gonzalo Barrientos for introducing him, as well as state Reps. Elliott Naishtat and Eddie Rodriguez, city council members Brewster McCracken and Lee Leffingwell, Constable Bruce Elfant, and state senate candidate Kathi Thomas for lending their support.
The SAEN has a good wrap-up, Bell says tax cut won't fix schools:
Simply using a budget surplus to reduce school property taxes during a coming special legislative session would be like "a sugar rush" without fixing the state's school funding system, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell said Monday.

[...]

"Texas can have the best public schools in the country, but only if we avoid a fiscal sugar rush that would use the budget surplus to soothe our craving for a tax cut at the expense of a balanced revenue diet for our schools," Bell said.

[...]

"If you are proposing revenue-neutral ideas, you are basically rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," Bell said. "We need more money coming into our state coffers."
Bell did this at the AFL-CIO headquarters in Austin, that's right a union hall, I doubt you'll see OTG hanging out there anytime soon. I hope teacher's union members see and hear that! But from what I can tell Chris Bell brought this up first yesterday as this DMN/AP article shows:
Earlier Monday, Democratic nominee Chris Bell called on Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Perry to give all Texas teachers a $6,000 pay raise.
No matter, the DMN/AP saw fit to give OTG top billing in there story and hardly even mentioned Bell. I guess this is the kind of treatment from the press Chris Bell will have to expect over the coming campaign. He comes out with a great idea and the liberal Texas media will drown it out by either Kinky with an open beer, OTG piggy-backing or Gov. Perry with a bad hair day.

One last thing on the teacher pay raise. From today's AAS Gardner Selby does his best to show that those challenging the governor are just playing politics with teacher pay. The funny part is how he tries to do that. By quoting defeated incumbent and still chair of the House Public Education Committee Rep. Kent Grusendorf:
Rep. Kent Grusendorf, R-Arlington, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, sniffed politics in the pay proposals.

Grusendorf, who lost his re-election bid last month to Diane Patrick, a GOP challenger backed by teacher groups, said of the proposers: "They're in a bidding war for the teacher vote." He said: "Aw, let's give them $10,000. It's not my money anyway, what do I care?"

Grusendorf said: "Our best teachers are underpaid. We have to try to find a way to solve that." But, he said, lawmakers should focus in the 30-day session on answering the Texas Supreme Court's judgment that schools are too dependent on property taxes.
Only "our best teacher are underpaid", he says. I wonder how he determines who "our best" teachers are? Call me crazy but if I'm Gov. Perry I'd be trying to find some common ground with Texas teachers. One way to do that would be to replace Rep. Grusendorf for the upcoming special session with someone who is a little more friendly with Texas teachers. Obviously I'm not Gov. Perry and that would also take cooperation from Speaker Craddick. But that would probably go a long way and since we know Rep. Grusendorf is not friendly to teachers, help the governor politically.

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