Senate education chair: House school finance plan "not a long-term solution"

The Texas Senate's education chairman said Tuesday that he would not accept a House proposal to put $1.8 billion into public schools.

During a Senate Republican Caucus news conference, Sen. Larry Taylor touted his plan to create a commission to study the school finance system over the House's plan to reform it by adding more funding. The House gave final approval to that proposal, House Bill 21, on Monday.

"The time for tinkering around the edges and making minor changes is over," Taylor said, adding that  a one-time influx of money to the system is a "political fix," not a long-term solution. He also likened the House's plan to attempting to drive a broken-down car "knowing you will be facing expensive repairs and ultimately be driving it into the ground."

Taylor said he would hear HB 21 in the Senate Education Committee, potentially this week, but he would not compromise on the bulk of the legislation.

HB 21's author, House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty, R-Houston, has said that his legislation is an important, preliminary step to fixing a troubled school finance system.

Gov. Greg Abbott put both the school finance commission and immediate school finance reform on the agenda for the July-August special session.

When legislators left the Capitol in the spring after the regular session, the chambers were divided on how best to reform the system for funding public schools. Since getting back to the Capitol for the special session in July, and with fewer than 10 days to go before the end, neither chamber has deviated from its message.

Huberty has not brought Taylor's Senate Bill 16, on the school finance commission, up for a hearing. He has said another study on the issue is not necessary.

Read related Tribune coverage:

  • The Texas House voted to approve a package of bills that would put $1.8 billion into public schools, increase funding for certain student groups and help out struggling small, rural schools. [Full story]

  • The House and the Senate are figuring out whether they can compromise on exactly how to put $212 million into an underfunded health insurance program for retired teachers. Teachers say they'll take their frustration to the polls. [Full story]

  • In what seems to be an overture to the House, Gov. Greg Abbott added two new education-related issues to his special session call Thursday: school finance reform and increased benefits for retired teachers. [Full story]