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Abbott, Patrick disagree on special session for school funding

Gov. Greg Abbott turned down Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's suggestion that he call a special session to overhaul school funding.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement Monday from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's office.

Days after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick suggested that Gov. Greg Abbott call a 30-day special session to overhaul the state's school funding system, Abbott said Monday that no such special session was needed.

Patrick told the Midland Reporter-Telegram last week that there is not enough time during next year's 140-day regular session to discuss overhauling the controversial “Robin Hood” school funding system, which redistributes money from property-rich school districts to property-poor districts. Patrick has since said that he was "not advocating for a special session."

“If the governor is willing, I am willing to address it in a special session,” Patrick told the newspaper.

But Abbott made clear Monday that he is not willing. His office issued a statement saying the matter should be thoroughly discussed in regular session -- not a separate special session.

“Governor Abbott believes Texans deserve for issues—including fixing a broken Robin Hood system—to be thoroughly debated and addressed in a regular session where responsible and hardworking legislators have plenty of time to address these serious topics. Texans don’t want a full-time legislature, they want a legislature that can get their work done and then go home,” spokesman John Wittman wrote in a statement.

"No reason to put off to tomorrow what we can do today," Abbott added on Twitter.

Later Monday, Patrick's office issued a statement saying he was not pushing for a special session. A Patrick spokesman said the statement was similar to remarks the lieutenant governor made Monday afternoon while discussing school finance at an event in Houston. 

"Reforming school finance is a very complex, multibillion-dollar issue that is a high priority for me and for many lawmakers," Patrick said in the statement. "I am not advocating for a special session. I am simply saying that at some point, if we are truly serious about dealing with this issue, I believe that is what it will take."

In May, the Texas Supreme Court upheld the state's school finance system as constitutional while also deeming it “undeniably imperfect” and urging lawmakers to make improvements.

Patrick Svitek contributed to this report.

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Politics Public education Dan Patrick Greg Abbott School finance