Se­nate Repub­li­cans re­ject House’s $1.8B ed­u­ca­tion bill, call­ing it a “po­lit­i­cal fix,”

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Julie Chang jchang@states­man.com Con­tact Julie Chang at 512912-2565. Twit­ter: @juliechang1

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.

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