Hot List: Day 31 of the Legislature

The Lead

The Senate unanimously passed a bill yesterday authored by Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) to eliminate the state mandate that STAAR tests count for 15 percent of high school student’s overall grade. That’s a major step in testing reform, though it’s also the one most education policy experts agree on. After passing the bill, the Senate adjourned for the weekend. But the House will meet today at 10 a.m.

Yesterday’s Headlines

1. House Education Chair Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen) filed House Bill 5, which would decrease the number of STAAR tests high school students would need to pass in order to graduate. The Observer’s Patrick Michels writes that the bill would also do away with the “15 percent rule” just as Patrick’s bill would.

2. At least one section of the ill-fated Trans-Texas Corridor may finally become a reality. Gov. Rick Perry yesterday spoke to the I-69 Alliance and said a portion of the $3.7 billion infrastructure investment from the Rainy Day Fund should go toward building Interstate-69, as the Observer’s Beth Cortez-Neavel reports. I-69 was one piece of Perry’s now-defunct Trans-Texas Corridor plan.

3. California Gov. Jerry Brown ridiculed Perry for radio ads in which the Texas governor attempts to coax California businesspeople to bring their companies to Texas. Brown compared the significance of Perry’s radio spots to “a fart.” That’s all you need to know, but if you want to read more, check out The Sacramento Bee’s editorial. It’s spot on about where Texas ranks on education and health care. But we don’t think the Cowboys are Perry’s “beloved” football team.

4. And the bad news for CPRIT just keeps coming. The Austin American-Statesman reports that one of the recipients of a grant from the state’s troubled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) used $1.3 million of the grant to fund banned expenses.

Line of the Day

“Is there anyone in your agency who has received a pay raise of over $4,000 a month?”—Sen. Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) to an official with the Texas Water Development Board during a Senate Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday. By the way, the answer was yes.

What We’re Watching Today

1. The House Appropriations Committee will hear testimony about health and education.

2. The Senate Finance Committee will hear from the Department of Criminal Justice and the Juvenile Justice Department.

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