5/29/2011 9:54 PM
The Texas House passed the major fiscal matters bill, SB 1811, which became a vehicle for crucial school finance legislation, after members spent 45 minutes total opposing it both from the left and the right.
Democratic opponents included Scott Hochberg (Houston), Mark Strama (Austin), Rafael Anchia (Dallas) and Sylvester Turner (Houston).
Democratic protests were familiar – that the bill would drastically alter school finance in Texas by eliminating the state’s promise to fully fund schools. They refrained that the bill fails to fund enrollment growth in Texas public schools.
Hochberg said the bill affects poor school districts “with the same sort of vigor” as wealthy school districts.
Turner told the House that the “whole process is wrong,” saying that no one outside the capitol had been given the chance to testify on the bill.
When the 45 minutes ran out for opponents, Appropriations Chairman and author Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) merely moved passage. The vote was 84-63.
Republicans who voted no included: Rodney Anderson, Dennis Bonnen, Edwin Cain, Stefani Carter, Wayne Christian, Dan Flynn, Mike Hamilton, Patricia Harless, Bryan Hughes, Susan King, Geanie Morrison, Aaron Pena, David Simpson, Van Taylor, Vicki Truitt, and James White.
Meanwhile, the Senate appears headed towards hitting midnight tonight without agreeing to the conference committee report. Davis is reading letters from constituents, possibly with the intent of filibustering. (She may only need to speak for about an hour more, unless the Senate votes to go past midnight tonight or stops the clock.)
Asked if he was concerned about the possibility of getting a worse product (from their point of view) in a special session, Hochberg said, “I think the majority party would do that only at their great peril.”
Anchia suggested that if Perry called legislators back immediately to deal with school finance, there is less possibility that the product would get worse than the existing conference committee report. But if the special session is not until July, it’s more up in the air.
“When folks go home are they going to hear from teachers, parents, and students, or are they going to hear from TEA Party activists?” Anchia posed. If the latter, it could from his and other Democrats’ point of view, get worse, he said.