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Senate Republicans Vow Not To Waver From Education Cuts

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – State Sen. Wendy Davis (D –Fort Worth) knows she’s drawn some scowls from colleagues for leading the move to block an education funding package and force overtime after the 82nd Legislative Session came to a formal end.

But she says that’s not the reaction she’s seeing in her e-mail inbox, which is inundated “with people saying thank you.”

“Thank you for standing up for public education funding,” Davis said of the messages. “We know it took courage.”

She hopes that popular support will pressure some Republicans and key Democrats to rewrite the current budget proposal, which slices more than $4 billion out of public school funding and would rewrite the formula for how much state money school districts get in the future.

“I think they’ll be hearing from their constituencies,” Davis said. “I think they’ll be hearing from their school districts and I hope they’ll come to the table with a different attitude then they brought.”

But as Republican leadership looks at what might happen in the upcoming special session, wavering is not in their forecast.

“We’re not going to renegotiate the budget,” said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. “We’re going to move Texas forward.”

Gov. Rick Perry, who is also weighing other issues to add to the special session workload, was not pleased by having to essentially take the Legislature into extra innings.

“There is not a great deal of excitement about being back here,” Perry said during a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “A lot of this work could have been finalized on Monday. Yet, a member of the Senate decided that they wanted to make a statement. Whatever that statement was, I disagree with it.”

As the Senate put together its upcoming calendar Tuesday, State House members huddled to build a game plan. They will also prepare to discuss a bill that would save the state money on Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for the poor, which also failed to pass during the regular session.

That bill would expand and privatize Medicaid statewide and create various incentives to improve quality of care.

The governor also says a plan to provide state insurance to homeowners in high-risk areas for wind damage must be completed this summer. And then there’s redistricting.

“I think this will all happen fairly quickly,” said Sen. Florence Shapiro, (R – Plano.) “Most of those are bills we’ve seen and passed before, 31-0, so I think you’ll see most of that happen fairly quickly.”

Dewhurst also said he was ready to do away with the Senate’s tradition of requiring a two-thirds vote to approve bills in the special session, which is meant to give even the minority party a say in legislation. The lieutenant governor presides over the Senate and he can choose not to recognize the unwritten rule in a special session.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.) 

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