Senate Republicans reject House’s $1.8B education bill, calling it a “political fix,”
Senate Republicans on Tuesday rejected a plan pushed by their GOP counterparts in the House to inject $1.8 billion into the beleaguered Texas public education system over the next two years.
In a Capitol news conference, Senate Education Chair Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, flanked by 12 Republican Senate colleagues, said House Bill 21 uses one-time funding as well as Band-aid fixes to address school finance system. He said that the Legislature needs to further study problems in the system and make recommendations, which has been proposed by the Senate.
The impasse raises the specter of little if anything related to reforming the school finance system passing during the special legislative session, which ends next week.
“Adding one-time money for what are obvious continuing expenses to this system is a political fix. It may feel good and be well-intentioned but is not long term solution,” Taylor said.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who presides over the Senate, echoed Taylor’s sentiments in a statement.
“Public education is also a top priority for the majority of Republican senators and they are absolutely right that simply adding more funding without a focus on teachers and educational outcomes, as is being proposed, accomplishes very little,” Patrick said.
House Public Education Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, said earlier Tuesday that the Legislature should enact a funding solution, not further study.
“We’re prepared to continue with House Bill 21 and fund education but if the solution is to pass a commission ... they’re out of their damn mind,” Huberty said.
An overwhelming majority of the House voted for HB 21. The bill would increase the base amount of money that each school district and charter school gets per student, create a hardship grant for school districts slated to lose Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction in September, and boost funding for students with dyslexia and who are learning English as a second language.
The bill would be paid for through delaying certain education payments to schools in the upcoming budget cycle until the following 2020-21 biennium. Patrick has compared the funding method for HB 21 to a Ponzi scheme.