Special Session Convenes, Then Promptly Adjourns

AUSTIN (AP) – The Texas Senate convened a special session Tuesday, met for 30 minutes then adjourned to start drafting new bills. One of the goals of the session – for lawmakers to take another stab at making drastic cuts to public school funding over the next two years after failing to pass an education bill before the regular session ended.

The regular session adjourned Monday, but Governor Rick Perry recalled lawmakers because they failed to pass a bill that would have legally let the state pay public schools $4 billion less than under current law. The bill was tied to the budget in a way that without it, the state could not distribute about $37 billion to public schools.

Lawmakers had to change distribution formulas to public schools in order to deal with a multi-billion dollar state revenue shortfall. The bill would have spread the cuts to schools over the next two years.

Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, effectively killed the bill late Sunday night with a filibuster that lasted past midnight, preventing a vote on the bill. Senate rules would have required a four-fifths vote to allow a vote on the bill Monday, the last day of the legislative session. With a 19-12 majority in the chamber, Republicans would have needed six Democrats to join them to suspend the rules.

Democrats contend that the bill would create a formula that would allow the state to keep underfunding schools into the future, something they said they can’t take back to their constituents.

The Legislature also failed to pass a bill that would save the state money on Medicaid, the government’s health insurance program for the poor, by expanding the privatization of Medicaid services in Texas and creating incentives to improve the quality of care.

Though Perry called for the special session to address changes to school funding and Medicaid, he could add items to the agenda or call another special session to consider other legislation.

Republicans said Democrats should be prepared for a contentious session that includes items they’ve fought hard against, including tougher immigration laws and legislation that would allow for larger public school class sizes.

Senators filed seven bills and left a spot open for an eighth. Two bills deal with school finance and other budgetary matters, and one that deals with Medicaid. But surprisingly, senators also filed legislation dealing with school instructional materials, an interstate health insurance program and a congressional redistricting map.

The additional items were listed in a letter from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to the governor as recommendations for the special session. It was unclear if Perry would add them to the agenda.

During the regular session Democrats blocked the sanctuary cities bill that would have local law enforcement enforce federal immigration policy. During the special session, the Republican majority in the Senate and supermajority in the House are all but certain to push the measure through.

Dewhurst 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.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. DK DAY says:

    Quality of Texas Public Education now leaving on track 11. All aboard.

  2. Patricia Richards says:

    Rick Perry has his eyes on the White House and is clearly not concerned about educational issues in his own state of Texas. If he is this unconcerned about the future of education in Texas leaving most if not all counties under-funded then why would we want him to carry this ambivalence on to Washington so he can help destroy the future of millions of children with his “it’s okay if you get a second rate education and globally who really cares if we rank in the bottom 500 of countries around the world..after all, we have all the cash and the rest of the world is waiting for us to save them financially..” Perry was once heard to say: ” YES – I am worth more than a million dollars and I made a success of myself. I wish people would stop complaining and go find a job.”
    We don’t want Rick Perry in Texas and we sure as hell dont need him in Washington—Ron Paul is looking better with the passing of each and every day.

  3. Chris McPhail says:

    I would like to hear more about Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst violating ethics policies while voting to enable TSA agents to continue groping children at the airports here in Texas. I think that he should be tarred and feathered!

    1. Tim says:

      David Dewhurst must be in the TSA’s back pocket. Micheal Chertoff is probably cutting him checks from gate rape and radiate funds.

  4. Robert says:

    In 2006 the Texas Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to charge property owners taxes for the purpose of funding public schools. the Texas Legislature was given one session to develop a new method of funding schools. The Legislature tabled the issue and have refused to correct the school funding issue in this state! Rick Perry refuses to utilize the “Rainy day” slush fund for school funding. Ann Richards sold the idea of the Texas Lottery for the purpose of funding schools but instead the money has built the “Rainy Day” fund. I say that we take the schoold back to the basics of reading, writing and math. Restore the discipline in the class room and make athletics an optional afterschool program. There is absolutely no justification in building multi-million dollar stadiums for kids who can barely read and write! Establish a flat tax so that all of the individaulas who are living in this country/state illegally, and all of the drug dealers and other individuals who are working for pay “under the table” can pay the same taxes that the honest hard working citizens are paying.

    1. Scott says:

      Great Ideas, Robert, except the ‘flat tax’. So-called flat taxes don’t punish under the table transactions so much as they favor the rich because the rich don’t have to spend nearly as large a percentage of their income as ordinary working people. Forcing working people to pay a bigger percentage of the load hurts the people who are the backbone of American society.

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