AUSTIN - Texas lawmakers are drawing lines in the sand over public school finance.The House saying it wants action -- and the Senate calling the House plan a band-aid.
Monday, the House almost unanimously passed House Bill 21, which would add $1.8 billion dollars into the public school system. It's money that would go to every public school in Texas, sending a strong message about where the House stands on education.
But Tuesday, Senate Republicans wanted to send their own message. Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) wants the House to pass his bill aimed at finding solutions to the state's broken school finance system.
"How do we do that? With a public school finance commission. Let me be clear, this is not another interim study," Taylor said.
The committee chair even took some shots at the House's alternative to add nearly $2 billion dollars into the public school system.
"We have a broken system that is well past applying another band-aid," he said. "Adding one-time money for what are obvious continuing expenses to this system is a political fix. It may feel good and be well intentioned, but it is not a long term solution."
The Chair and Co-Chair of the House Public Education Committee, a republican and democrat, disagree.
"To call it a one time fix actually betrays the actual work that was done. If it was just a one time fix, it would be a big stack of money and that was it. It's actually a complete rewrite of a number of the formulas we have and that would be the case moving forward. So it would be the first step of real reform," said State Rep. Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio).
State. Rep Dan Huberty (D-Houston) added, "In order to get things done sometimes you do things to work across, you know, both bodies, across the aisles and that's what we're prepared to do. But, we are not going to just pass a commission bill unless House Bill 21 passes. That's just a matter of fact," he said.
After the Senate news conference, Senator Taylor came to the House floor to talk with Huberty. Both agree there hasn't been a substantial change to the state's school finance system in 30 years, and the time to fix it is now. But what that fix is -- seems to have the House and Senate at odds with only eight days left in the special session.
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