| We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.
-- President Franklin D. Roosevelt
While Perry's tax plan is sailing through the Texas Legislature, the bill that appropriates all the money raised by new taxes - House Bill 2 - is traveling a strictly partisan path. In the House, it passed 81-67. The only Democrat to vote for the bill was Rep. Patrick Rose. Four Republican members - Rep. Casteel, Rep. Goodman, Rep. Delwin Jones, and Rep. Hamilton - voted against it.
In the Senate, the bill passed, though a provision was added so that once the state lowers the M&O tax rate to $1, 1/3 of the money must be spent on public education. If you think the tax rate will be lowered to $1 this special session, I've got a pharmacy school at Texas A&M - Kingsville you might be interested in.
Via Kuff and Greg, I came across an op-ed written by Rep. Garnet Coleman that ran in the Houston Chronicle titled, "Halftime report: Tax plan threatens Texas schools." From the editorial:
Most Texans believe the Legislature is working on a real school finance solution. But Gov. Rick Perry's tax plan, as passed by Texas House, is not the "long-term school finance solution" that has been advertised for months. In fact, editorial writers labeled the House-passed plan an "irresponsible design" and a "loony idea" that would "doom the schools to a starvation diet and failure."
There are three ingredients in that starvation diet. First, the proposed new taxes wouldn't generate enough money to pay for its property tax cuts. Second, not a single penny of the new Perry tax revenue could be used to improve our children's schools this year, next year or forever. Third, the leadership took $1.8 billion that was set aside last year for public education to pay for their tax plan. As simple as one, two, three, our children and their schools were taken out of school finance and our future was placed in jeopardy.
House Bill 2 and - since it is tied to HB 2 - the Perry Tax Plan do nothing for our public schools. Governor Perry has taken schools out of school finance. This session - to no surprise - was never about public schools. It was about property tax cuts. At a time when three times more Texans want to invest money into education than property tax cuts, and at a time when groups like Parent PAC are taking out candidates - Republicans and Democrats alike - that don't support public schools, the special session has done nothing to address improvements for public education.
Maybe that will all turn around in the next week or so. I sure hope it does. Because the only way we build a successful, thriving economy for tomorrow is by investing in our children today.