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Special Session Tackles School Finance

State lawmakers are heading back to the Capitol today to address the issue of school finance in a special 30-day session. Last week Governor Rick Perry announced the special session to deal with school finance. He also vetoed the funding bill for public and higher education. That leaves lawmakers with a lot of work to […]

State lawmakers are heading back to the Capitol today to address the issue of school finance in a special 30-day session.

Last week Governor Rick Perry announced the special session to deal with school finance. He also vetoed the funding bill for public and higher education. That leaves lawmakers with a lot of work to accomplish in a short time. House and Senate members have not been able to agree on a school finance plan. State Representative and Republican Peggy Hamric says in the 15 years she’s been in office pretty much every idea has been on the table at one time or another. Houston Representative and Democrat Garnet Coleman agrees with Hamric’s assessment.

The House passed an education bill in March, but the Senate didn’t complete their version until May and the two sides of the legislature could not reach agreement. Coleman says he chalks that up to a lack of leadership.

Political Analyst and Dean of Social Sciences at Rice University Dr. Robert Stein says the interesting thing to note is the slashing of the education spending bill, which some say gives the governor leverage over lawmakers by forcing them to pass a plan. Stein says vetoing the spending bill has less effect on Democrat-weighted constituencies in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio than it does on Republican constituencies and the Republican-controlled legislature will feel the pressure to pass a plan.

House Democrats are offering their own version of a school finance plan and say they seek bipartisan support for it. Right now there is no official agreement between Democrats and Republicans or even between the House and Senate on what a viable plan might look like. But Stein says Governor Perry has greater incentive to push lawmakers into agreement now that State Controller Carole Keeton Strayhorn has announced her plans to run against him for the GOP nomination.

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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