Public Opinion and a Big #TxLege Agenda for Tuesday, March 7

It’s hard not to see the late-breaking addition of the Public Education Committee chair Dan Huberty’s just-filed HB 21 to the committee's agenda Tuesday as a bit of a chess move against both voucher advocates and the Senate (see below). The runs have been released using the funding scheme in the bill, and there will no doubt be a lot of discussion of this in committee once people have had a chance to read the bill and digest the runs. All this takes place in the context of little consensus on what to do to address the public education finance system, declared dismal but barely constitutional by the Texas Supreme Court last year. Note: Harold Dutton's HB94 got bumped from the agenda.

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categorycolumn-1
Creating a school voucher program13%
Expanding the number of charter schools7%
Increasing the pay of public school teachers13%
Increasing funding for the public school system20%
Providing more incentives for individuals to choose teaching as a profession8%
Reducing the number of standardized tests students must take21%
Increasing opportunities for online learning4%
Grading individual schools on an A-F scale7%
Expanding state-funded, pre-kindergarten programs7%

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categoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Creating a school voucher program5%9%21%
Expanding the number of charter schools2%9%10%
Increasing the pay of public school teachers16%19%9%
Increasing funding for the public school system32%7%14%
Providing more incentives for individuals to choose teaching as a profession10%7%6%
Reducing the number of standardized tests students must take18%27%21%
Increasing opportunities for online learning4%6%4%
Grading individual schools on an A-F scale5%6%9%
Expanding state-funded, pre-kindergarten programs8%9%5%

The (now other) headliner at the Capitol Tuesday is the meeting of the Senate State Affairs Committee to take up SB 6, Senator Lois Kolkhorst’s bill that would require school districts, state agencies, and political subdivisions to develop policies that would govern access to bathrooms based on “biological sex” as defined by their birth certificate, among other related policies. Josh Blank and I wrote recently about the tangle of (largely unformed or at least fluid) public opinion in this area, subject as it is to many attitudinal cross-currents.  Last month’s UT/Texas Tribune Poll found underlying attitudes about gender similar to those discussed in that piece, with the addition of a new item that suggested that most Texans aren’t thinking it’s important for the legislature to make a priority of the subject.

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categoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Their birth gender33%41%76%
Their gender identity51%35%11%
Don't know/No opinion16%24%13%

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categoryDemocratRepublicanTea Party
Their birth gender31%77%76%
Their gender identity55%14%9%
Don't know/No opinion13%9%15%

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categoryUrbanSuburbanRural
Their birth gender49%54%62%
Their gender identity37%31%20%
Don't know/No opinion14%15%18%

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categoryThe Bible is the word of God, to be taken literallyThe Bible is the word of God, not to be taken literallyThe Bible is a book written by men
Their birth gender75%57%25%
Their gender identity14%26%61%
Don't know/No opinion11%16%14%

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categoryDemocratIndependentRepublican
Very important24%11%27%
Somewhat important13%12%17%
Not very important10%16%14%
Not at all important40%46%35%
Don't know/No opinion12%16%8%

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categoryDemocratRepublicanTea Party
Very important22%31%23%
Somewhat important11%20%16%
Not very important11%13%15%
Not at all important44%31%40%
Don't know/No opinion11%6%6%

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categoryUrbanSuburbanRural
Very important26%21%28%
Somewhat important17%15%11%
Not very important9%15%12%
Not at all important37%40%32%
Don't know/No opinion10%9%16%

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categoryThe Bible is the word of God, to be taken literallyThe Bible is the word of God, not to be taken literallyThe Bible is a book written by men
Very important42%19%11%
Somewhat important12%19%8%
Not very important10%16%13%
Not at all important24%37%61%
Don't know/No opinion13%8%8%