November 5 election
Many of you are well aware of the upcoming November 5 election as your district has a measure on the ballot. To our knowledge, there are 49 districts that are proposing bond referendums for an amount which totals $3.5 billion statewide. Of the districts proposing bonds, 43% qualify as Chapter 41 districts.
There are also three Chapter 41 districts conducting Tax Ratification Elections. Plano ISD and Goodrich ISD are both seeking approval from voters to assess an M&O tax rate of $1.17, while Iraan-Sheffield is seeking approval to access up to $1.06. There are four other districts statewide that are also seeking approval from voters in a TRE. You might be interested in the wealth of information Plano ISD has made available on their website regarding their TRE.
In addition to the school-related ballot measures in certain districts, every Texas voter will be asked to consider nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution. While none of those measures are directly related to schools, you can view the summaries of each proposed amendment prepared by the Texas Legislative Council here.
Early voting will remain open until November 1, leading up to the November 5 election.
Legislative and Statewide Race Update
Based on the game of musical chairs that is taking place for many officials due to the announced retirements of a couple statewide officeholders, we know already that we will once again see quite a bit of turnover in the Texas Legislature.
The chairmen of both the Senate Finance and Senate Education committees will not be returning to the Texas Senate. Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) has already announced his retirement and Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) is a candidate for Lt. Governor rather than running for re-election to his senate seat. Additionally, Senator Wendy Davis (D-Ft. Worth) and Senator Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) will not return to the Senate due to their respective runs for Governor and Attorney General. Senator Glenn Hegar’s (R-Katy) return to the Senate depends on the outcome of his bid for the office of Comptroller. That means at least four (and possibly) five of the 31 senate seats are currently up for grab due to the incumbent not returning, and several more will face challenges.
Over on the House side, 13 of the 150 members have already announced that they are either retiring or running for another office. Eight of those 13 members are currently chairmen of House committees, including committees such as Appropriations, Ways & Means, Natural Resources, Higher Education, and Pensions. That means that both the House and Senate will have new chairmen of the two budget writing committees for the 2015 session.
As far as the candidates for statewide office go, you can click here to review the positions various statewide candidates have expressed regarding public education over the past month. These positions were either stated at events the candidates attended or pulled from their various websites. As more information from candidates becomes available, we will share that as well.
This week, we marked the one year anniversary of when the school finance trial began last October 22, 2012, and in 88 days from today the hearing to re-open the evidence will begin (on January 21, 2014).
Evidence to be entered at this time includes that related to the increased costs and overall changes to the system for districts related to HB 5, the changes to revenue gaps given the updated school funding and finance formulas in regard to the equity claims, and the capacity for revenue generation in the current system.
Membership Meeting Wrap-up
It was great to see everyone who was able to attend the Coalition’s membership meeting at the TASA/TASB Convention. We were pleased to honor our very first Honorary Lifetime Member, Mr. Robert Ryan. Robert has spent his lifetime dedicated to public education, and he is not only one of the founding members of the Texas School Coalition, but until his retirement this summer, he has continually served as a member of the organization’s Executive Committee. It seems fitting that he was the first person to receive a lifetime membership.
If you would like to view the presentation slides used during the meeting, you can access those here.