Patrick Michels

Hot List: Day 85 of the Legislature


The Lead:

We’re beginning to count down to the budget debate in the House this Thursday. Education spending will be one of the major issues in the debate. The version of the budget voted out of House committee puts $2.5 billion more into education over 2011 levels. That’s $1 billion more than the version the Senate approved.

Speaking of the Senate budget, it may seem generous toward public schools, but it really isn’t, as the Observer reports. Under the Senate budget, Texas schools would receive an average of $86.50 less per student in 2014-15 than they did in 2012-13. You read that right. If you look at per-student spending, Texas would actually devoting less to education under the Senate budget. Some lawmakers dispute that point, though, specifically Senate Finance Chair Tommy Williams who contends those per-student spending estimates aren’t reliable. We’ll see Thursday how those disagreements play out on the House floor.

Yesterday’s Headlines:

1. A bill heard in House committee yesterday would make some public officials’ texts and emails releasable under the open records law, if they contained information about official business, reports the Observer’s Beth Cortez-Neavel.

2. Democrats, patients and hospitals threw their support behind Medicaid expansion at a Capitol press conference, rivaling the presser held by the biggest names in the state’s Republican Party, reports The Dallas Morning News.

3. The Texas Tribune writes that the Attorney General’s office has ordered the Texas Cancer Coalition, formerly the troubled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute, to stop distributing funds.

Line of the Day:

“An inmate on death row has more appeals and due process than a patient before an ethics committee.” – John Seago, legislative director for Texas Right to Life, to The Texas Tribune.

What We’re Watching Today:

1. The House Public Education Committee should be entertaining. The panel will be hearing a bill from Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) to allow schools to display Christmas related greetings and decorations. Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D-Harlingen) has a bill up to limit contact football practices to reduce brain trauma. An anti-sex education bill by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano) will be up. On a more constructive note, the committee will hear Republican Amarillo Rep. Bennett Ratliff’s bill to limit testing in 3rd through 8th grade. Phew.

2. The Senate Education Committee will hear another bill on CSCOPE, the controversial curriculum tool. The committee will also debate a bill that would expand online education that would cost a whopping $1 billion for the biennium, and a bill on gun training for teachers.

3. And Finally, it just wouldn’t be a good week at the Lege without a bill banning Sharia law. This one comes courtesy of Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) in the Senate Business and Commerce Committee.