SENATE PREPARES FOR LONG WEEKEND
With 20 days left in this special session, the Senate is gearing up to work through the weekend on a property tax reform package passed earlier in the week by the House. House Bills 1, 3, and 4 have already been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, and will be considered by that committee beginning Friday morning.
The committee will hear testimony and make changes to the bills throughout the weekend, with the intention of bringing the bills to the Senate floor early next week. Education Committee Chair Florence Shapiro and Lt. Governor David Dewhurst will add measures to HB 1 that will include a teacher pay raise, incentive programs, and increased accountability measures.
Dewhurst said today that if the Legislature can pass a bill that reduces property taxes while improving schools, that the state will make a "giant step" forward in the quality of its education. " If we can pass out these bills, making the corrections in some case that are necessary, and with Senator Shapiro's leadership, put a bill on to House Bill 1 that pays our teachers more, provides incentives, increases performance and dramatically increases academic and financial accountability, that's a real win-win for the people of Texas and for the children of Texas," he said.
Shapiro said that the additions she plans to propose to HB 1 will not only improve education in the short-term, but will help the state avoid future litigation over adequacy and equity issues. "The part that I put on reaches a lot of what I call those yellow flag issues," she said. "The courts didn't say we're not doing these things. They were saying watch out, caution, possibly if you don't fix it, you will be doing those things. And we've addressed that in the committee substitute."
The Senate Finance Committee will meet to consider the tax bills from the House beginning at 10 a.m. on Friday, and continuing at 10 a.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Senate will reconvene Monday, May 1 at 2 p.m.