Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Special Session Woes

Activists and politicos across the state are making a faulty assumption—Rick Perry has said there will be a session on April 17th but we still do not know what the focus will be. If the recent reports coming from Austin are any clue, we may not know until right before the session.

The 30 day session will be the fifth attempt at resolving the education and tax woes created by the Republican leadership, but before the session has even started, there is infighting on what to focus on.

Lt Gov David Dewhurst is demanding a call that focuses on education reform and using the state surplus to fund contentious and controversial plans. Some of the things Dewhurst would like to see done range from the most benign like increase teacher pay to a touchy publicly funded voucher program.

On the other hand, Rick Perry is looking for a quick and easy victory to walk into the November elections with. Perry is looking to call a session that focuses on finding a solution to the unconstitutional sales tax.

Some plans have been announced to achieve the June 1st deadline created by the recent Texas Supreme Court Ruling.

The tax commission, headed by former Comptroller John Sharp, also is recommending a cigarette tax and using $1 billion of the state surplus. Under the commission’s plan, higher sales taxes – a staple of previous legislative plans – would be unnecessary.

The number one priority for all legislators must be to ensure that our deteriorating public education system has the fiscal support it needs and that schools are able to open their doors next year.

This internal debate will have an impact on the November election and may create a possible speakers race either in the special session or during the 2007 regular session.

The Dallas Morning-News and the San Antonio Express-News have more details on their websites.


At 2:59 PM, Blogger Right Of Texas said...

I agree that education needs to be the focus.

With Strayhorn and Bell talking about teacher raises, if Perry and Dewhurst can join in, but come off as fiscal conservatives...this will be a chance for them to shine.


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