Keyword: 86th Legislature
The Texas House will take up HB3, the omnibus school finance bill years in the making, on Wednesday. As with any attempt to tweak the school finance system in Texas, the attention of legislators in the House has shifted to the "runs", the document produced by the Legislative Budget Board outlining how funding will change for each member's school districts. Old timers in the process will remember how, in the past, when new runs were released, members walked around with sheafs of paper, looking for the small handful (or less) of members who could walk them through the implications.
Ah, technology! For those who enjoy looking at the data themselves and maybe even playing with it, we have converted the .pdf's released by the LBB into spreadsheets and shared them for easy access.
For those following the debate in the Texas House of Representatives today on HB 1, the appropriations bill, here's a searchable pdf of the pre-filed amendments, via Google Docs. If you're not a regular Google Docs user:after you follow the link, there's a download icon in the upper right that will download the pdf to your device, then you can open using whatever you're used to using.
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick released 30 priority bills for the current legislative session Friday, conveniently mapped onto the numbering of Senate Bills 1-30. We published a similar list when Governor Abbott used the power of the governorship to shape the legislative agenda with his declaration of emergency items in February, prior to the most recent University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll. The overlap between the Lt. Governor’s priorities and those previously announced by the governor means that several of the items below provide a useful update for that post, too.
The latest University of Texas / Texas Tribune Poll, which Ross Ramsey wrote about in a batch of stories released through the week, covered a range of subjects and issues with an emphasis on the current legislative session. As always, we’ll continue to mine the data and connect it with happenings at the legislature as the session kicks into a higher gear, but below are a first set of observations, hopefully more than hot takes but certainly less than the in-depth treatment we’ll give them in coming weeks.
Set aside the hand-waving and vague muttering that “elections have consequences,” and the evidence for a public mandate on school finance and propert taxes is pretty thin. It likely has more to do with the new governing dynamic among Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and Dennis Bonnen.
Governor Greg Abbott delivered the state of the state speech today, and as expected declared a set of emergency items, enabling the legislature to move bills on these subjects through the legislative process more quickly. These items are school finance reform and increasing teacher pay; school safety; mental health; property tax reform (with a seeming nod toward electing tax appraisers); and disaster response.
Abbott’s emphasis on public education and reforming the property tax system largely echoed priorities already under discussion by the state’s political leaders as the legislative session has unfolded. He ended with an embrace of the seeming Era of Good Feeling that state leaders keep declaring in the Capitol in the wake of the 2018 election ("I am inspired by the comradery and collaboration that have infused this session. I feel it myself."). The causes and reality of this narrative beyond waving at the 2018 election results deserve to be examined more closely; for now, here are some touchpoints in public opinion for the emergency items that the governor has declared in his bid to set the legislative agenda.
Political courage took a back seat to political calculation as the renegade memo on the investigation of Carter Page was made public, completing the eclipse of the President’s State of the Union and, at least for the moment, the increasingly corrosive immigration debate. While the fiddling continues in a smoldering Washington, D.C., the Comptroller delivered bad news of a more mundane variety to the Senate Finance Committee this week, while financial bad news of a different sort added to the woes of a (somewhat) surprisingly beleaguered George P. Bush in his increasingly contentious primary battle to remain Land Commissioner. Beto had better financial news than either Glenn or George P. (That sentence shows why the first name thing works better for O’Rourke). National media attention to a report on white supremacist groups focusing recruiting efforts on college campuses featured their fairly piddling efforts on Texas campuses, through our data suggests that White Supremacy pretty clearly doesn’t have a data analytics department.