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Legislature . “Old timers had a feeling from the start there was something a little spooky about this session, that it was going through familiar exercises without really working any muscles. There was plenty of frenetic activity but not much forward motion.” Ford hit the nail on the old kazoo. And now, with only five weeks left to go \(at sidestroking their way around the big issues. The Legislature has no leadership. Now, the Observer had few kinds words for John Connally or Ben Barnes when they were running Texas government. We were never very fond of what they tried to accomplish, but at least they were capable of functioning as leaders. They forced legislators to get on with their legislating. The Senate is beginning to move \(it passed a strip mining bill, albeit a very, very weak a sea of unpassed bills. House Speaker Bill Clayton does not seem to be in any particular hurry. Some people attribute this to ineptness and others attribute it to deviousness. Gus Mutscher had a trick of letting great bunches of bills pile up until the very end of the session, because that way he could gain crucial control over the fate of important legislation. Maybe that’s what Clayton is up to. We shall soon see. Inertia seems to have affected most everybody in the House. The liberal House Study Group considered issuing a press release lambasting Clayton and Gov. Dolph Briscoe for administrative paralysis and then decided that discretion was the better part of valor. BRISCOE’S no-new-tax stand virtually assured a do-nothing Legislature. In January the state was alleged to have more than a billion-dollar surplus, but inflation, which had supplied the unexpected fax dollars in the first place, proceeded to soak up most of the extra money. Agency after agency came to the Legislature for emergency appropriations to pay for unanticipated expenses, and the billion-plus windfall is now down to about $500 million. That’s not even enough to deal with school financing reform. “Where is Briscoe? Where is Briscoe?” chanted the teachers who rallied in Austin to urge the Legislature to pass a new school financing bill. Briscoe did not attend the rally at UT’s Memorial Stadium, nor did Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby or Speaker Clayton. Their reluctance to face 35,000 angry members of the ‘Texas State Teachers Association might be charitably explained by the fact that the rank and file teachers mainly came out to demonstrate their commitment to a $10,000 a year base salary for beginning teachers. The main thrust of school reform this session was supposed to be equalization of expenditures among the state’s rich, middle, and poor districts. Somewhere along the line teachers’ salaries became the pivotal issue. Teachers, after all, have considerable clout at the polls \(in fact, a number of speakers at the TSTA rally claimed it was the teachers’ vote that finally awarded legislators a pay raise in the was ‘more than a little resentment that the TSTA was planning a rally to pump for higher salaries. While ” Briscoe, Hobby, and all 181 legislators were invited to attend the gathering, only about 20 senators and Hal Wylie representatives showed “up. Neither the chairman of the House or Senate education committees was present. Apparently aware that they were being criticized for harping on the salary issue, TSTA speakers at the rally were careful to emphasize that they were lobbying not just for bigger pay checks but rather for a long list of educational improvements.. Prominent on the speakers’ platform was Demetrio Rodriguez, the man whose name was on the school financing suit. Jewel Howard, president of the TSTA, talked about all sorts of educational needs, but the loudest applause came when she insisted that teachers must have higher salaries so they can support their families “without . resorting to food stamps and moonlighting.” While their leaders might be talking about school financing reform, the folks who half-filled stadium were there to demand improvement in their own salaries. Austin Sen. Lloyd Doggett was an especially popular speaker. “I am amazed that a state so rich in natural resources must consistently rank lowest in every educational expenditure except for the football that is played on this field,” Doggett said, and the crowd roared its approval. Sen. Babe Schwartz of Galveston attacked Briscoe’s insistence on no new taxes. He charged that multinational corporations and members of the Texas Manufacturers Association don’t pay their fair share of Texas taxes. Schwartz said he doubted that Texans will continue to Stand for “keeping all the jam on the top shelf . . . . We raised more from cigarette taxes last year than we did from natural gas taxes,” he said. Talk of new taxes to finance education went over well with the teachers in Memorial Stadium, but it doesn’t alter the fact that Dolph Briscoe says he’ll veto a tax bill. The game plan has been for the House and Senate appropriations committees to first allocate what is needed for state agencies and existing programs and then used the leftovers for school financing. This is a sore point with teachers. At the rally, Senator Schwartz asked the crowd, “Do you want to take what’s left after everyone’s got theirs?” Thousands of voices shouted back, “No!” The shout must have been heard at the Capitol, because_two days after the rally, House and Senate leaders decided to bring school financing to a vote before the general appropriations bill. IN LIGHT of Briscoe’s veto threat, the House subcommittee that , is working on the school reform bills has tentatively decided to jettison plans for major reform of school financing. Subcommittee Chairman Herman Adams says that the subcommittee is opting for a “band-aid” bill that will appropriate the available $480 million or so mainly on salary increases, plus some funds for transportation, maintenance, and extra aid for schools now taxing at higher rates, if the funds are available. At Speaker Clayton’s suggestion, the subcommittee is thinking about a pilot project using Briscoe’s “weighted pupil approach” \(see Obs., ‘ The subcommittee is also thinking about recommending the creation of a legislative property tax board to audit market values in each school district and setting up a committee to do more study on financing education through property taxation based on market values. All of which is to say that the House subcommittee at this point has chosen to punt the school financing problem on to the 65th Legislature. _ Two days after the subcommittee announced its “band-aid” approach to school financing, some reporters cornered Governor Briscoe in a Capitol hallway for an interview. According to Darrell Hancock of The Houston Post, “When asked about the subcommittee’s working proposal, he appeared unfamiliar with it. When it was explained, he said he assumed the panel had produced the plan only that morning, although it was produced Monday night. But he firmly endorsed financing equity as May 9, 19 75 3