Senate not likely to pass House school finance bill

Senate not likely to pass House school finance bill

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

It is a disagreement that has continued to rage since the end of regular session. Texas House and Senate Republicans cannot come to a consensus on what to do with school finance.

"It's somewhat frustrating," said Keith Bryant, Superintendent for Lubbock ISD. 

He said there are some lawmakers in Austin who do not understand the importance of public education.

"It seems that there are people that just want, that think public ed has had its course to run and that public education is not going to do well for kids and so we've got to find other ways to educate kids," he said. "It's just very frustrating."

Earlier this week the House passed a bill similar to the legislation offered during the regular session. It would pump $1.8 billion into public schools. 

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called the bill a "Ponzi Scheme" and the Senate's Education Chair, Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) said he will not accept the proposal, likening it to driving a broken down car into the ground.

"The state's growing 80,000 kids a year, about the size of Ft. Worth ISD, and those kids cost more to educate today than it did when we all were school and that's because of technology, it's because of cost of living, that sort of thing,So if we don't take care of funding public schools then our society is going to be hurt in the next generation and we've got a lot of kids that deserve, and that's what we're hoping to do."

Bryant has an ally in the public education fight, Rev. Charles Foster Johnson, Executive Director of Pastors for Texas Children. He has ties to Lubbock as well. He was the former pastor at Second Baptist.

"When we're 45th in the nation on what we spend on our school children that is a moral problem," Johnson said. "We are now about six to eight billion dollars behind what our schools need to properly educate our children. It's a constitutional mandate, Article seven, section one."

Johnson said the Senate's proposal of vouchers, despite intentions, only affects the wealthy middle class. He adds that school choice is only a choice for profiteers seeking to make a dime off Texas children.

"Public education is a public trust like roads, like water, like police protection and fire protection," he said. "Everyone contributes to their local taxes, property taxes, into a community chest. And from that chest all our children are educated, not just children that can afford it, but all children including the poorest of our children."

The Senate Education Committee is expected to hear HB 21 but time is running out for action to be taken. The special session is scheduled to end August 16th.

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