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TX Rep. Coleman on SB 2: 'Put the brakes on a runaway process'

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

Opponents of SB 2, Sen. Florence Shapiro's (R-Plano) public school reform bill, got another reprieve today - albeit maybe just one day - when Shapiro announced she would not bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate as planned.

Rumors circled the Senate chamber like vultures, and word was that, once again, there were not enough votes to suspend the rules to bring the bill to the floor for debate. Not counting the probable "no" votes, two Republican members of the Senate who voted for the original bill in the Senate during the 79th Regular Session - Sens. Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) and Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) were both absent Monday.

Shapiro announced she would not bring the bill to the floor until some of the issues Senate members had brought to light were addressed. She said she hoped to have the bill as close as possible to what came out of the conference committee during the First Called Session.

Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) described those members of the Senate who were blocking the rules suspension as "doing a great service to the people of Texas." He said it is time to "put the brakes on a runaway process" before a plan is passed that is more than $1 billion out of balance.

"If the state leadership's tax shift and education plan was really in the best interests of most Texans, there would be no reason to trample the needs of Texas children, teachers, and taxpayers by voting on bills before legislators can even see if the numbers add up." Shapiro noted that district runs showing how school reform legislation would affect each member's legislative districts would not be available until the bill is finalized.

Coleman said the proposed property tax relief bill (HB 3) is not revenue neutral and "would not even provide enough funds to cover the cost of the proposed property tax cuts, much less the cost of implementing the HB 2 plan."

The Houston Democrat urged members of the Senate to block efforts at passage of the Shapiro bill, "Because no plan is better than an inadequate one that won't pass court muster."

Shapiro indicated she will meet one-on-one with members of the Senate to hear the issues with which they have problems in the bill, and is hopeful to bring the bill to the Senate floor either Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning.