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The Brief: A Consensus on School Finance, Blow it Up

Witnesses at a Senate Education hearing on Wednesday agree the current system of funding schools doesn't work but the hard part is finding a replacement.

Dr. Ray Freeman is the deputy executive director at the Equity Center.

*Correction appended

The Big Conversation

Members of the Senate Education Committee and a room full of interest groups agreed at a panel meeting Wednesday that Texas should drastically change how it allocates more than $40 billion to the state’s public schools. They disagreed on where to go from there.

Ray Freeman, deputy executive director of the Equity Center, representing property-poor school districts, offered: “You’ve basically gotta blow it up.”

As the Tribune’s Kiah Collier writes, “the fault lines that will define efforts to improve the state's system of funding education came into sharp focus” at the meeting. Conservatives are looking for a system of benchmarks that would tie state funds to how schools perform, not primarily how many students they enroll,” Collier writes, while representatives from poor and smaller schools argue lawmakers should close the wide gaps between districts before using money to reward or punish districts.

The panel is tasked with issuing a set of recommendations on the school finance system ahead of the next legislative session in 2017.

Trib Must Reads

Texas Agrees to Weaken Voter ID Law For November Election, by Aneri Pattani and Jim Malewitz — Texas agreed Wednesday to terms that will weaken its voter ID law and that lawyers suing the state say will make it easier for minorities to cast a ballot in the November general election.

Texas Health Officials to Hear Concerns About Fetal Remains Rule, by Alexa Ura — Health care providers, funeral operators and women's rights activists on Thursday are expected to tell Texas health officials that a rule requiring the cremation or burial of fetal remains will do little to improve public health and could be burdensome to women.

To Fight Zika, Texas Medicaid Will Pay for Mosquito Repellent, by Edgar Walters — Texas officials announced on Wednesday they would allow Medicaid to pay for mosquito repellent for women in the hopes of preventing the Zika virus.

Resignation Leaves Dallas County GOP Broke and Feuding, by Patrick Svitek — After less than two months on the job Dallas County's Republican chairman has quit, leaving behind an organization in financial distress and setting off a breakneck race to replace him, with a state senator's twin brother deep in the fray.

News From Home

•    Will Texans vote in November? Join us in August for a civic social weekend. The Texas Tribune is teaming up with the Society of News Design — and collaborators like you — to examine Texas’s low voter turnout rates, and what can be done to better engage and inform voters. Registration is free, but space is limited. See our event listing now to apply.

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The Day Ahead

•    Jay Root of the Texas Tribune hosts a talk about the Tribune's yearlong Bordering on Insecurity project that looks at the reality behind the heated rhetoric around immigration and border. The event, set to start at 5:30 p.m., takes place at The Centennial Club in McAllen and will be livestreamed on the Tribune's website for those unable to attend in person.

•    The House Committee on County Affairs meets at 10 a.m. at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth to hear testimony on several interim charges, including evaluating the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and addressing potential gaps in counties’ cybersecurity policies.


(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Hurd slams, but still might vote for TrumpEl Paso Times

Statesman analysis: Pilot error cited in 70 percent of balloon crashes, Austin American-Statesman

Greens coming to Houston hoping to shake up race for the White House, Houston Chronicle

Incorrect Latin word mars UT’s monument to victims of 1966 Tower sniper, Austin American-Statesman

Senate Democrats ask Cruz to investigate Trump, potential Russian interference in election, The Dallas Morning News

In Dirty Bomb Prevention, Texas Fails a Crucial Test, Center for Public Integrity

America’s Electronic Voting Machines Are Scarily Easy Targets, Wired

Dallas DA Susan Hawk, still battling mental illness in Arizona, has worked just 66 days this year, The Dallas Morning News

Bexar County Commissioner Kevin Wolff remembers little from DWI arrest, was wearing only underwear, San Antonio Express-News

Quote to Note

“This is a huge improvement from what the law was before.” 

— Luis Vera, one of the attorneys in the lawsuit challenging Texas’ voter ID law, on a weakened version agreed upon by the state and the U.S. Department of Justice and minority rights groups 

Trib Events for the Calendar

•   A Conversation with state Sen. Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa and state Reps. Terry Canales and Bobby Guerra on Aug. 26 at UT Rio Grande Valley in Edinburg

•   The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

•   TribFeast: A Dinner To Support Nonprofit Journalism on Sept. 24 at the University of Texas at Austin's Etter-Harbin Alumni Center

•   A Conversation with state Reps. Four Price and John Smithee on Oct. 4 at Amarillo College in Amarillo

Correction: The subject of the photo that originally appeared with this story was incorrectly identified as Ray Freeman.

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