House Committee Assignments

Speaker Joe Straus appointed House committees this week, and the members of the House Appropriations and Public Education Committees are listed below.  If you have a representative on either of these lists from your school district, you may want to send them a note congratulating them on their appointment and reminding them that you are […]

Hamilton: Tax credits a smokescreen for school vouchers

By Billy Hamilton

Suppose that companies that owe taxes to the state could donate money to a private group that would pick children to receive private school scholarships, and in return, the companies would get a tax break. Would that be good policy?

The Texas Legislature soon will debate this question. But, if you aren’t one of the corporations or the tiny percentage of families getting a tax break or scholarship and, like most Texas families with children, you rely on public schools, you already know the answer: No, it’s not.

Senate Finance Hearing on SB 1

The Senate Finance Committee conducted its first hearing of the session on Wednesday, January 23.  The hearing on SB 1 (the budget) was focused on Article III (Education), and specifically TEA and the Higher Education Coordinating Board. Senate Finance Chairman Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) laid out the Senate’s projected timeline on the budget.  He expects […]

Gas from shale is making Texas schools rich

SAN ANTONIO – Eight rural South Texas school districts helped by tax revenues from the Eagle Ford shale energy boom have been designated under state standards as “wealthy,” meaning they may have to surrender some of that money to poorer districts.

School officials said the change in designation was unfortunate since the districts were just beginning to see their finances improve.

“I’ve lived here for 40 years, and we’ve been poor for 38 of those years,” said Deborah Dobie, superintendent of the Carrizo Springs Independent School District.

Dave McNeely: Will Texas lawmakers invest or cut taxes?

As the Texas Legislature kicked off its 140-day regular biennial session, the state’s top three leaders were touting the same message: Texas ain’t Washington.

Republican Joe Straus, just re-elected to a third term as House speaker, bragged that, “In the Texas House, we don’t put the Republicans on one side of the room and the Democrats on the other.”

Unlike Washington, “we work with our colleagues, regardless of party,” said Straus, who became speaker in 2009 with near-unanimous Democratic help to oust Republican predecessor Tom Craddick.

Budget bills introduced

  Leaders in both the House and Senate filed budget bills for their respective chambers early this week.  It’s important to remember that the filed version is a starting point, and there will be much discussion and change between now and final adoption of the state budget. Overall budget numbers The House bill would appropriate […]

First drafts of state budget hold the line on spending

AUSTIN – The Republican-led Legislature plunged into the opening round of writing a new state budget Monday as leaders in the House and Senate released separate initial spending plans that drew quick attacks from critics for failing to restore more than $5 billion in education cuts imposed by lawmakers two years ago.

House leaders are calling for $187.7 billion in spending over the next two years, while the Senate version proposes $186.8 million.

Reflecting a directive from Gov. Rick Perry, the budgets essentially take a hold-the-line approach to spending and are substantially below robust revenue projections available to lawmakers for the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal biennium, which starts in Sept. 1. The Senate proposes a $3.1 billion, or 1.6 percent, decrease from current spending while the House would cut spending by $2.2 billion or 1.2 percent.

State Case Summary

The State of Texas began the presentation of its defense on Thursday, December 6, and continued through December 13, when the Court recessed for a three week holiday and did not resume until January 7.  On January 14, the State concluded their presentation, but did not rest their case, as they have one additional expert […]

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