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TX House Speaker Craddick: 'We are wasting time and money'

By J. Lyn Carl, GalleryWatch.com

Austin, TX –

Call Tom Craddick a party pooper.

The Senate Education Committee had just completed some five hours of debate over more than 20 proposed amendments to the latest bill, SB 8, aimed at reforming the state's public schools. The Senate Finance Committee was gearing up for a hearing 15 minutes later to hear legislation calling for a constitutional amendment that is an attempt to skirt the requirement that a tax bill must originate in the House - since the House shot down its own HB 3 tax plan last week and has shown no interest in resurrecting such a bill.

Two senators propose legislation that will be a safety net in case SB 8 doesn't pass in the Senate...allowing strictly for funding of teacher pay raises, the health insurance pass-through for teachers and school employees and payment for long-overdue textbooks for Texas classrooms.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst says he won't sign on to such a bill because massive reform is needed in the state's public schools.

Gov. Rick Perry says he might be willing to accept "half a loaf" but reminds there are over two weeks left in the Second Called Session.

Then comes House Speaker Craddick.

The Senate is working away, watching the clock, looking for the "miracle bill," and Craddick announces he is ready to go home.

Saying there apparently is no compromise for HB 2 and HB 3, the school reform bill and accompanying property tax relief bill, Craddick Thursday said because neither chamber has been able to pass any legislation, "We are wasting time and money, and it is unproductive to prolong this process."

With schools across the state ready to begin the new term in a couple of weeks, Craddick reminded that the textbooks many of these schools are awaiting are still in warehouses. "The funds for those books can only be granted through budget execution, which cannot be done while we are in session."

Thus, the speaker suggested an end to the Second Called Session. "I suggest we sine die, continue working together to reach an agreement, request the Texas Education Agency send us a list of reforms they can carry out without the Legislature changing the statutes, and wait to review the Supreme Court's ruling before formally meeting again."

Craddick finally uttered the words most have been hearing in whispers around the capitol for more than a week. They should turn the heads of members on the other side of the rotunda. If the Main Man in the House says it ain't gonna' happen...it ain't gonna' happen.

Turn out the lights, this party is apparently over.