When you have two legislative bodies dominated by conservative Texas Republicans fighting over how to finance public schools, it can be challenging to know who to believe. Fortunately, former Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis and friends stepped in yesterday to provide a bit of clarity. Via Twitter:
Folks, when Wendy Davis starts cheerleading for one Republican side over the other, it’s time to high tail it to the other.
And when the Texas affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers starts shilling for one Republican side over the other, you know you made the right choice to run to the other.
House Emphatically Rejects Senate Voucher “Poison Pill”
The Senate’s attempt to force acceptance of a private-school voucher scheme by inserting it in a House school-finance bill suffered a major setback today. The House voted 134 to 15 against concurrence in the Senate changes to HB 21, the good school-finance bill by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston). Not only that, the House for good measure supported a motion to instruct House negotiators to reject the inclusion of any voucher provision whatsoever if and when a House-Senate conference committee comes to a final agreement on HB 21. The margin on that anti-voucher instruction was 101 for and 45 against. The pro-voucher faction on the House floor tried to reverse that result with an instruction to “consider all methods of educational choice for special-education students,” but their gambit failed on a vote of 47 for, 89 against.
Allowing parent’s of special needs children to make the best choice they can for their child is a “poison pill” in the eyes of ‘a union of professionals’. Amazing.
The fact that my own House representative, Rep. Dennis Paul (R-129) voted with Huberty and Wendy Davis doesn’t make me particularly happy. He explained via text message that he needed to vote for it to try to get it to conference or it would die in the House. Only 15 Republican reps didn’t see it that way and voted against Huberty and Wendy: Biedermann; Cain; Isaac; Keough; Klick; Krause; Lang; Rinaldi; Schaefer; Schofield; Shaheen; Stickland; Swanson; Tinderholt; Zedler. Kudos to you guys for trying.
It is interesting to look at the Fiscal Notes for each version of the bill.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB21, As Engrossed: a positive impact of $33,973,419 through the biennium ending August 31, 2019.
Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB21, Committee Report 2nd House, Substituted: a negative impact of ($1,853,351,923) through the biennium ending August 31, 2019.
Wow. Huberty’s version would ADD money to the state General Fund. Taylor’s version would SUBTRACT money from the state General Fund to the tune of $1.8 billion. Huberty must be a magician.
Nah, not a magician. Just using another one of the tricks in his bag of political tricks. Further down in the analysis of Huberty’s version, we find this:
The bill would result in estimated state savings for the Foundation School Program of $34.2 million for the 2018-2019 biennium. Increased state cost for FSP entitlement, including hardship grant awards, is estimated to be $931.7 million in fiscal year 2018 and $909.1 million in fiscal year 2019. This biennial cost of $1,840.8 million would be offset in fiscal year 2019 by one-time savings of $1,875.0 million due to changing the final FSF payment of the biennium from August 2019 to September 2019.
Ah, a little sleight of hand accounting trick. Delay payment by a month, moving it to the next fiscal biennium and call it one-time savings. In Pasadena, we’d call it kicking the can down the road but hey, we ain’t all that sharp, ya know.
Here is what Lt. Dan had to say:
AUSTIN – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick issued the following statement today following the Texas House rejection of House Bill 21 — the $530 million school funding plan:
“I am appalled that the Texas House turned down an additional half-billion dollars for public schools simply because it included a program that might allow some disabled child somewhere in Texas to attend a private school that his parents believe would be better for him or her. The House members who voted against HB 21 ignored the needs of disabled children to take a stand against school choice, which is supported by a strong majority of Texans in every demographic group and both political parties. Instead of supporting those Texans, those House members buckled under the demands of education bureaucrats.
“Although Texas House leaders have been obstinate and closed-minded on this issue throughout this session, I was hopeful when we put this package together last week that we had found an opening that would break the logjam. I simply did not believe they would vote against both disabled children and a substantial funding increase for public schools.
“I was wrong. House Bill 21 is now dead.”
House Bill 21 contained the following components:
- $200 million for ASATR
- $200 million new money for the Foundation School Program
- $100 million for fast growth schools and charter schools for facility funding.
- The bill included Education Savings Accounts for children with disabilities.
- Upon passage by the House, the official start date for A through F would be pushed back until 2019, making the 2018 scores another sample year.
Once again, Wendy Davis’ friends try to come to Huberty’s rescue. This time in the form of Clay Robison, once a biased liberal reporter for the Houston Chronicle, now the paid shill for the Texas State Teachers Association. Mr. Robison had this to say:
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick waxed sanctimonious after the final defeat of the House’s effort to improve school funding but don’t be misled by his demagoguery. The blame for the school finance failure rests squarely with Patrick.
Speaker Joe Straus and the House majority tried to enact legislation to improve state funding for public schools and take an important first step toward real school finance reform. But Patrick was all about snooping in school bathrooms and trying to force the House into wasting tax dollars on private school vouchers, even after it was clear that a bipartisan House majority was adamantly opposed to vouchers. At the eleventh hour, Patrick had the Senate majority remove funding from the House’s version of HB21, the school finance bill, and attach a special education voucher instead. Then he blamed the House for killing school finance when House members called his bluff.
“I simply did not believe they (the House) would vote against both disabled children and a substantial funding increase for public schools,” he said. Hogwash.
Patrick’s “funding increase” claim was actually a billion dollar cut from the $1.6 billion the House had proposed. And his special education voucher amendment would have been useless for most special education kids because private schools don’t have to provide special education services and those that do are exempt from federal standards designed to make sure the services provided are appropriate.
The House actually had tried to improve funding for disabled kids and all other students by approving additional funding for public schools, but Patrick and the Senate majority killed that effort. That means public schools, including special education classrooms, will remain under-funded, and the burden on local school property taxpayers will continue to increase.
Whenever Dan Patrick opens his mouth about public education and property tax “relief,” he has absolutely no credibility. And the school children of Texas – all the school children of Texas – will be better off if their parents quit believing him.
Someone is waxing sanctimoniously, Mr. Robison, but it ain’t who you say it is. You might want to look in the mirror. I’m reminded of Mr. Robison’s words in his farewell in the Houston Chronicle:
I offer an observation to bloggers, whose presence in the political arena is expanding as the ranks of traditional news reporters thin. There is a difference between reporting and spinning. I have done both for a long time, and reporting is a lot harder.
Looks like Mr. Robison got tired of the hard work and decided to get paid to do the easy stuff. Hey, it happens.
So, I’ll repeat what I said earlier: Folks, when Wendy Davis starts cheerleading for one Republican side over the other, it’s time to high tail it to the other. To get the complete picture, throw in the teacher’s unions and virtually all paid Texas media as well.
I’d suggest that Republican voters high tail it as fast as they can to the other side and support Sen. Larry Taylor (my senator by the way). If you live in my district, HD129, you might want to let Rep. Dennis Paul know what you think.