The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Special Session?

Texas Legislature needs to do their job by fixing school finance

Another month, another special session about school finance reform.

Special sessions used to be, well, special. Not anymore. Not with the current legislature and governor in charge.

Texans are being subjected to their fourth special session on school finance reform, and this one has some special circumstances.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled last year that the state must alter the formula on which schools are funded by June 1 of this year. They said the state uses what amounts to an unconstitutional statewide property tax to fund schools. The court said that local districts are essentially forced to set property tax rates at or near the cap of $1.50 per $100 of assessed value.

Normally that would be incentive enough to finally get working on a deal, but Monday’s announcement of a larger than expected budget surplus has added a twist to session.

The legislature now has an extra $8.2 billion to play with, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

We agree with State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, who said at the Monday announcement that the surplus should not be used as a quick fix for the school finance problem.

School districts statewide are slashing programs and staff because they do not have the money to properly fund their schools. A quick fix does not address the fundamental problem — the way the state procures the money.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen anything from any legislator or executive officer to indicate that any progress is going to be made this session.

A lack of leadership is killing any potential progress that can be made.

The Texas Legislature were efficient more recently due to dynamic leaders such as Bob Bullock or Pete Laney — people who were respected on both sides of the aisle and willing to craft compromises.

Right now we have House Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — not exactly a dynamite combination, as was proven at the end of the 2005 regular session.

We urge the Texas House and Senate to work together so the session does not end with a potential bill in conference committee.

Our leaders need to think big and think outside of the box.

In other words, they need to be Texans.

That shouldn’t be so hard, now should it?

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