Under Texas law, all state agencies must undergo a periodic evaluation to determine whether or not an agency is still necessary, or what changes need to be made to the agency's authority or function. This process, referred to as the Sunset process, streamlines state administration by eliminating unneeded agencies, reducing redundancy by combining two or more agencies, or changing the operation of an agency to address a changing world. Today as part of that process, the Senate voted to continue the Texas Education Agency (TEA), which oversees the operation of all state public schools, through 2017.
Senate Bill 422, by Lake Jackson Senator Mike Jackson, continues the operation of the TEA much the same as in past years, with a few technical changes. One of these is a new requirement for training regional directors for regional education centers. The bill also included specific language regarding charter schools, including provisions for ratings, accreditation, and penalties for underperforming institutions.
Debate on the Committee Substitute for House Bill 2, the education component of the Senate's plan for public school finance reform, was postponed until Wednesday. The reason, according to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, was a discrepancy between the Legislative Budget Board and the Office of the Comptroller with regard to increases in funding to local districts. Plano Senator Florence Shapiro, author of the bill, said the Comptroller has submitted a letter stating that the numbers from her office are incorrect, and that the Senate will have to wait until the morning for the new calculations. She added that the average increase in school funding to local districts is about 4.75 percent over this biennium. The Senate will likely take up the finance side of the Senate's education reform plan, CSHB 3, tomorrow.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, May 10, at 8 a.m. for consideration of the local and uncontested calendar, and will meet for regular session at 11 a.m.