FOR MOST OF the last two special legislative sessions, members of the House Mexican American Caucus had given ground on the education finance bill that was vetoed by the Governor. Some openly argued that the bill which was finally passed out of the House and sent to the Governor was so badly compromised that, if challenged, its standard of equity would not pass muster with the Texas Supreme Court. And if there were ever any doubt that the bill would be challenged, it was put to rest several days before the attempted veto override when Al Kauffman, an attorney for the Mexican American Legal told a House committee that MALDEF would challenge any bill which did not provide 100 percent equity that is, equal access to equal funds for all of the schoolchildren in the state. Yet all but one member of the House Mexican American Caucus voted for a bill that they all agreed was fundamentally flawed. Perhaps believing that certain provisions in the bill which guaranteed for 90 percent of the state’s children access to wealth equal to 95 percent of what was available to the school district at the 95th percentile could be overturned in court, every caucus member except Greg Luna voted to override the Governor’s veto and make Senate Bill 1 law. What was wrong with the bill? “Money, that’s the main thing. It doesn’t provide enough money, especially in the first year,” said Corpus Christi Democrat Eddie Cavazos, who chairs the Mexican American Caucus. “But I voted for it. I didn’t like the bill. I stood up there and said I didn’t like the bill. But I voted for it. That’s the last time, though. Those guys can go home and explain their votes in their districts. I’m not voting for it again.” Cavazos’s contention, shared by most members of the caucus, was that many House Republicans, who had voted to support the Governor and kill a bill that was the result of months of compromise, had placed partisan considerations far above the interest of their own constituents. Minority representatives, Cavazos said, had “bent over backwards” to compromise with Republicans and conservative Democrats, only to be left supporting a compromised bill. It was the minority members who had voted almost unanimously to keep school finance out of the hands of a court master. That vote represented a compromise, particularly since minority legislators represented many of the property-poor schools in the state schools which were the winners in the Edgewood v. Kirby lawsuit yet were not prevailing in the Legislature. “For once in our lifetime, we have the advantage of a court order, a mandate … we have the courts on our side,” Cavazos had said in a speech in which he urged his fellow House members to vote to override, even though the bill was far from perfect. But the bill represented, he said, a first step for the minority children who the Supreme Court said had been denied an education. House Public Education Committee Chair Ernestine Glossbrenner, D-Alice, agreed that the caucus had done its part. “[Before the House override attempt] I had heard that some members of the Mexican American Caucus said they’d rather let the master do it,” Glossbrenner said, referring to the special master appointed to devise an equitable finance system if the Legislature fails to meet a courtimposed deadline. “You can see that that wasn’t true. Only one member of the caucus voted against the bill. If half the Republican Caucus had voted for it, it would have passed.” Glossbrenner added that only one member of the Black Caucus had voted against the bill. \(The override failed 92-55, with 11 of 60 Republicans voting for it and six Democrats voting against it. Democrats voting no were L.B. Kubiak, Rockdale; Bill Hollowell, Grand Saline; Greg Luna, San Antonio; Al Price, Beaumont; Robert Saunders, LaGrange; Tom Uher, Bay City; and Members of the Black Caucus also suggested that they were finished with compromise. “I’m voting no from here on out,” said Austin Rep. Wilhelmina Delco. “I’m ready to let the judge decide. Or at least to see what Robin Hood has to offer.” Delco, a highly regarded member of the Black Caucus, who also serves as Chair of the House Committee on Higher Education, said perhaps it was time for minority representatives to put together a coalition and try to deny the House a quorum a move she admitted was unlikely because such a coalition would require 51 members. In the status hearing held earlier this month, Austin State District Judge Scott McCown said that any plan devised by the special court master will use existing appropriations to fund education. So since the court master, former Democratic Supreme Court Justice William Kilgarlin, does not have the power to appropriate new money for education, the “Robin Hood” plan that most predict he will enact \(Kilgarlin had not released his preliminary plan at the time of the attempted veto override or by the Observer’s Obo cLHE TEXAS :userver JUNE 1, 1990 VOLUME 82, NO. 11 FEATURES Agenda for the ’90s By Geoff Rips 6 Dallas By John Fullinwider 8 So Far From God By Barbara Belejack DEPARTMENTS 16 Portfolio 2 Editorials 3 Political Intelligence 12 Journal 15 Social Cause Calendar 22 Books and the Culture One Hundred Years of Katherine Anne Porter By Bryce Milligan Activists’ Handbook By Randall Dodd State of Grace By Steven Kellman 18 19 20 Afterword Elegy With Echo Circuits 23 will involve moving money among the state’s 1056 school district’s. It will be a zero-sum game, in which one district’s gain will be another’s loss. Urban districts that will lose the most money, according to a Senate Education Committee report, include: Dallas, $61.4 million; Houston, $56.3 million; Austin, $15.5 million; Arlington, $13.1 million; Spring Branch, $11.6 million; Fort Worth, $9 million; Irving, $9 million; Richardson, $7.2 million; Plano, $6.3 million; Beaumont, $3.8 million; and Tyler, $2.8 million. So it seemed likely that Republicans who represented those school districts, after considering the numbers, would be persuaded to vote for SB 1. A few did, as 11 Republicans crossed party lines and voted to override the Governor. But many, such as Ashley Smith, Robert Eckels, and Brad Wright of Houston: EDITORIALS Points of Obstruction THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3
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