Dewhurst Expresses Disappointment over Lack of School Finance Reform
AUSTIN - With only three days left in the 2nd called session of the 79th Legislature, and the failure on the part of the House of Representatives to pass a tax bill, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said today that he is disappointed that the Legislature could not find a solution to fix school finance and lower local school property taxes. "Personally, I'm very, very disappointed. Here in the Senate, we passed out an education bill three times, and we passed out a tax bill three times," said Dewhurst. "Last night, the Speaker said he still doesn't have the votes to pass either school finance reform or a tax bill. There is nothing more we can do in the Senate."
The Constitution requires that the House originate any tax bill. Early in the special session, the House voted down both its school finance reform and tax reform bills. The Senate responded by passing Senate Bill 8 last Tuesday, but the House took no action on that measure. Speaker Craddick said in early August that the Legislature should end the session early, because there was no consensus on what to do about school finance. The House has yet to debate any new tax or education reform bill, and House rules would require an unlikely supermajority to bring up any new legislation at this late date.
It is possible that the governor could call yet another special session after August 19, but with the lack of progress on the issue and fatigue of the Legislature, Dewhurst expects the governor to wait until after the Texas Supreme Court has ruled on a constitutionality challenge to the current school finance system later this year.
The Senate will reconvene Friday, August 19, at 11 a.m.