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Craddick: House won't pass school bill without 'real reforms'

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –


First House Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland) tosses a grenade by announcing that the Second Called Session is a waste of time and money, there is nothing even remotely close to a consensus on public school reform and property tax relief and everybody should go home.


Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is not amused and rallies the Senate troops to announce that the Senate is not ready to wave the white flag just yet and will continue to work on public school reform and property tax relief legislation.


Now missing his Alaskan fishing trip, Craddick fires back again, saying the Senate-passed public school reform bill won't hold water and the House "will not be a party to passing legislation that does not contain meaningful property tax relief and proper education reforms."


Seems there is a short fuse on public school reform legislation, and the Speaker today set off yet another firestorm.

In a statement today, Craddick said his calling for the legislature to sine die was because he saw that the House and Senate were at an "impasse" on school finance and tax reforms. "I wanted to level with all Texans concerning our difficult struggle here in Austin," he said.

The Speaker said the bill that passed out of the House during both the 79th Regular and First Called Session included "broad school and tax reform measures." What came over from the Senate yesterday - Sen. Florence Shapiro's SB 8 - "lacks meaningful reform," according to Craddick.

"Passing the Senate's bill would be akin to passing a property tax bill that provides no real assistance for homeowners," said the Speaker. He said SB 8 either watered down or removed many of the reform provisions in HB 2, such as fixing Robin Hood and requiring 65 percent of school funding to go straight to the classroom. "We should not pass a bill just to present the appearance that some action has been taken," he said.

Tuesday the House passed legislation that would ensure payment for already-ordered textbooks for public schoolchildren. If that bill does not pass, he said the textbook dilemma can also be addressed through budget execution once the special session ends.

"In the event that the Texas Supreme Court issues an opinion that requires us to take action, then the Legislature will make the necessary adjustments," said Craddick, adding that, "We are not going to continue to put more money into a system without the reforms to fix it.

"I promise you: any school reform bill that passes the Texas House will contain real reforms."

In the meantime, the House Select Committee on Public Education Reform has posted a hearing for 3 p.m. or adjournment on Thursday to take up SB 8.

Nine more days left in the Second Called Session, and then...