Saturday, May 06, 2006

It Just Doesn't Make Sense

Watching the legislature last week was as confusing when I was a lil lad and watched the Usual Suspects while sick.

ITP says Rep Brian McCall has the votes to become speaker in January. This adds one more name to the list of possible candidates of Pitts, Kefer, Krusee, and Craddick all say they have the votes. If Craddick does feel challenged, I would expect him to step down for family reasons and throw his support behind Krusee.

You have to wonder if this newly found support is due to the wheels falling off the bus.

Craddick put together a very smart rule that limited the debate to just property taxes. Lt Gov Dewhurst, however has been oscillating like a fan... going back and forth between wanting to treat HB2 like a Christmas tree hanging on cuts and additions of every kind and wanting nothing on the bill at all.

Now all the pressure is on the Senate to get HB 2 back to the house without Rep Williams' amendment that would divide the new taxes (2/3 for a property tax buy down and 1/3 to education). As long as that amendment is on it, the House will not consider the new bill, but Sen Shapiro has threatened to scuttle the bill if the amendment is taken off or if the Senate refuses to consider education reform.

Shapiro tried to logic and reason, and like all good legislator... they didn't get it. From the Quorum Report:
Shapiro declared that, yes, she was willing to pull down her substitute– and give up all of its proposed education reform measures– if it meant passing the Duncan-Staples amendment. The House version proposed current law for the entire enrichment tier. Shapiro said she would prefer to withdraw her bill if she knew that the money being spent in CSHB 1 “would not be spent for the good use of all the children of Texas.”

Shapiro produced a chart from the Legislative Budget Board that estimated the net cost to CSHB 1 using three scenarios with different percentages of equalization and different amounts of enrichment, by pennies, over the next five years. According to the chart, equalizing up to the 96th percentile, at 16 cents, would be $2 billion in 2011. During discussions, Shapiro referenced a two-year cost of $3.6 billion for the enrichment tier, which would have been the combined 2010 and 2011 costs, according to the chart.

To take the problems one step further, tax hawks in the Senate have gone one step further. According to Philip Martin at BOR the Senate passed a bill that would get property taxes to $1 by 2008.

It is a Grover Norquist proposal. Starve the states programs in order to force smaller ineffective government. Guess who is not happy with this idea? That's right.

Right now the special session is slated to end around May 18th, and it looked like legislators would be able to walk away solving the Supreme Court problems and increase education. However, if Lt Gov Dewhurst continues his failed leadership, Craddick fails to work with the Senate, and the Senate fails to compromise among it factions... schools just might not open next year.


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