The Big Conversation:
A House lawmaker has filed a bill that would put billions of dollars in public education cuts into perspective. But even he says he wouldn't vote for it.
On Tuesday, state Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, introduced legislation that would show what $9.8 billion in cuts — the amount current budget proposals slash from public education — actually looks like.
The bills, as Ben Philpott of KUT News and the Tribune reports, would level the school financing field by, in part, increasing the number of so-called Robin Hood school districts, which give to poorer districts. Other lawmakers have yet to spell out specific changes to the state's byzantine school financing system that are said to be required as the state prepares to cut funding for schools.
Hochberg's plan would leave the Houston Independent School District, for instance, with $1,328 less per student, according to the Houston Chronicle. "All are in the same lifeboats," he said.
But Hochberg emphasized that the legislation, which has little chance of reaching the House floor, was simply intended to show the types of funding changes schools and lawmakers could expect. "Given the drastic effects on many district as a results of the budget cuts, I truly hope this bill is a starting line, not a finish line," Hochberg said. "This is not a bill I would like to vote for as currently drawn."
Hochberg's filing came the same day senators considered two other controversial proposals for dealing with cuts to education: furloughing teachers and changing the state's 22-to-1 class-size cap.
- Hundreds rallied in support of Planned Parenthood, also caught in a federal budget feud, at the Capitol on Tuesday. House Democrats attacked Republicans for recently passed abortion sonogram legislation and rulings that could limit women's access to family planning services.
- A gay-straight alliance can, for now, meet on the Flour Bluff High School campus. The Corpus Christi school district recently decided to ban all extracurricular clubs from meeting on campus after advocates charged that the district's denial of a student's request to form the alliance violated a federal law.
"We do not believe encouraging people to drink more hard liquor is a good reason for passing legislation." — Greg Wonsmos, a liquor store owner and president of the Texas Package Stores Association, on claims that Texans would drink more liquor if state law were changed to allow liquor sales on Sundays. On Tuesday, Comptroller Susan Combs said a change in law would provide the state with "no significant revenue."
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- On State Website, Calls for Vigilante Justice, The Texas Tribune