Must be effective - js - A long-overdue war has broken out between the state's billion-dollar education establishment (Big Ed) and conservative state lawmakers who sometimes vote against Big Ed's wishes.  The battlefield is the ballot box. Organizers of the anti-tea party campaign set a goal of getting every school district employee in every district to register and vote in next year's Republican primary on March 6.  The movement is endorsed by the Texas Association of School Boards and many other pro-education groups. view article arw

Governor Greg Abbott has appointed Scott Brister, Melissa Martin, Elvira Reyna, and Todd Williams to the Texas Commission on Public School Finance for terms at the pleasure of the Governor. Additionally, the Governor has named Brister chair of the commission. The commission is charged with developing recommendations for the legislature on public school funding and prepare a report to deliver by the end of 2018 to the governor and legislature of recommendations to improve the public school finance system. view article arw

Months after lawmakers repeatedly tried to pass a "bathroom bill" regulating which public restrooms transgender Texans are allowed to use, several Texas business leaders told a House committee Wednesday that such a law would be bad for Texas' economic future. The House Select Committee on Economic Competitiveness, established by House Speaker Joe Straus following the special session this summer, is tasked with ensuring new business continues to come to Texas. The members heard testimony from business leaders including Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, real estate developer Ross Perot Jr., Dallas Stars President and CEO Jim Lites and others on how different policies would impact their companies and the future of the state.   view article arw

Despite pleas from some school districts affected by Hurricane Harvey, the state education commissioner told lawmakers on Tuesday that it will be difficult to delay student testing dates or suspend testing requirements altogether. Commissioner Mike Morath told members of the House Public Education Committee that he doesn’t have the authority to suspend State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness requirements and if he does, the state could lose out on federal funding, which makes up about 10 percent of the state’s education budget. He said that delaying STAAR testing dates could also create further difficulties for school districts, including pushing the last day of school further into the summer and affecting summer school schedules. view article arw

The state’s largest business organization released its rankings of Texas lawmakers. The report card was calculated based on the business impact of the votes recorded by each member of the Texas House and Senate. Twelve senators and 75 representatives “made the grade,” according to the Texas Association of Business. Only Rep. Oscar Longoria, D-Mission, received a 100 percent score. view article arw

AUSTIN — Texas lawmakers spent too much time this year debating bathrooms and immigration, and took their eyes off some matters vital to economic growth, such as phasing out the business-franchise tax and easing road congestion, the head of the state's top business lobbying group said Tuesday.  Texas Association of Business chief executive Jeff Moseley, releasing a scorecard that rates each lawmaker based on selected votes, said his group was pleased to help block a bill that would require transgender Texans to use restrooms that match their gender at birth. It was sorry lawmakers went too far in adding a "show me your papers" provision to a new law banning sanctuary city policies that prohibit police and sheriff's deputies from asking people about their immigration status. view article arw

As a Dallas businessman, Jeffrey Payne thinks he has the tools to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in 2018. He said his professional background gives him insight into serving Texans. “I believe that when you’re loyal to your employees, they’re loyal to you,” Payne said before a Midland appearance Wednesday. “The same thing works for state government. You treat your constituents — all of your constituents with respect. You work for them.” Payne said he’s willing to work with Texans who have various political viewpoints. The state’s Democratic Party hasn’t had a governor in office for more than two decades, and Payne said he brings a new perspective to the table. He also thinks the party has been shedding the mold it had in the past.    view article arw

As Republicans march forward on a massive overhaul of the nation’s tax system, classroom teachers could end up feeling the pinch. The “educator expense deduction” is among the items that House GOP leaders have proposed to eliminate in order to simplify the tax system.  The write-off allows teachers and administrators to deduct $250 for out-of-pocket expenses used in their classrooms and schools: items such as books, school supplies, decorations and computer software. view article arw

A leading House speaker candidate on Monday made it clear that the staunchly conservative Texas Freedom Caucus wouldn't dominate the chamber if he's elected. Houston-area GOP Rep. John Zerwas pushed back hard on the notion the House must lurch to the right after current Speaker Joe Straus steps down in January 2019. While Zerwas offered himself as "a fresh person" with conventionally conservative views on abortion and other social issues, he vowed to emphasize "issues that have major importance" to future generations of Texans. view article arw

All seven constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot were on their way to approval by Texas voters, according to results released Tuesday evening by the Texas Secretary of State’s office.  Two amendments would create new property tax exemptions and one will allow professional sports teams to hold charitable raffles. One measure —Proposition 6 — which would give property tax exemptions to surviving spouses of first responders killed in the line of duty — got an approving nod from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. He said the proposition was one of his legislative priorities for the 2017 regular session. view article arw

Congressional debate over the Republican-backed proposal to change the tax code is under way in Congress, and education issues are getting a share of the spotlight.  The tax overhaul proposed by House Republicans last week, officially titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, would end the $250 deduction that teachers can claim on their income taxes for money they spend on classroom supplies. The bill, released last Thursday, would also end the deduction individuals can take on interest they pay on their student-loan debt, and expand the allowable uses of 529 college savings plans so that parents and others could use the money for K-12 expenses, including for private school tuition.  view article arw

Congressional debate over the Republican-backed proposal to change the tax code is under way in Congress, and education issues are getting a share of the spotlight.  The tax overhaul proposed by House Republicans last week, officially titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, would end the $250 deduction that teachers can claim on their income taxes for money they spend on classroom supplies. The bill, released last Thursday, would also end the deduction individuals can take on interest they pay on their student-loan debt, and expand the allowable uses of 529 college savings plans so that parents and others could use the money for K-12 expenses, including for private school tuition.  view article arw

Another local resident has been tapped by Governor Abbott to serve the public on a state board. Governor Abbott has appointed Bryan Hedrick, of Hereford, to the Texas School Safety Center Board. Hedrick is the current director of Special Services for the Hereford Independent School District, and a constable for Deaf Smith County.  view article arw

The push and pull for the soul of the Texas Republican Party for much of the past two years has been Texas House Speaker Joe Straus at one end of the stick and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, the dominant figure in the state Senate, on the other. When Straus, who has presided over the 150-member, GOP-controlled House for nearly a decade, cherry-bombed the Austin political scene with the announcement he wouldn’t seek re-election, it appeared the party’s soul rested comfortably in the hands of the social conservatives that form the core of Patrick’s base. view article arw

Previously we reported that the Senate Education Committee would meet next Monday, November 6, in Houston for a hearing to review the crisis response of the Texas Education Agency to Hurricane Harvey and to gauge whether changes in state law are called for to make TEA’s response in such crises more effective. Now we can report that the House Public Education Committee will meet on November 14 in Austin to explore whether accountability requirements and sanctions should be eased to reflect the massive educational disruption caused by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Texas AFT will participate in and report to you on both of these important hearings. view article arw

Dan Patrick to Texas schools: Starve.

November 0608:15 AM
 

Note this article is from 2016 - js - Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick was in town this week, talking schools, school finance, and property tax reform. These are favorite topics for Patrick, who, before becoming arguably the most powerful man in state government, was a Houston media personality, best known for undergoing an on-air vasectomy during a live radio talk show. In his 2015 inaugural address, tucked between the Stetsoned hubris and the cowboy booted jingoism and the liberal quotation of Scripture, Patrick bemoaned the failure of "our inner city schools" and invoked Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech to articulate a dream of his own, a "dream of the day every child gets a quality education so they can break the binds of poverty and live the Texas and American dream." view article arw

This year, Austin's school district will pay nearly half a billion dollars to help fund other school districts.  Eanes Independent School District will pay $93 million and Round Rock Independent School District will pay $9 million while Lake Travis Independent School District will pay more than $43 million. And property tax dollars generate all that money sent to poorer districts across the state. view article arw

Presenting himself as “a rational, conservative Republican running against an extremist incumbent,” Scott Milder, a former Rockwall city council member and advocate for public education, declared Thursday that he is challenging Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the March Republican primary.  “Somebody’s’s got to stand up and confront the bully who’s never going to stop picking on the little guy,” Milder, 49, said in an interview in Austin with the American-Statesman. “He’s insulting. He’s polarizing. He’s divisive. He’s not a strong a leader. He doesn’t represent the values of class and character that Texans have.” view article arw

Pro-public education businessman Scott Milder makes it official: He is running against Dan Patrick in GOP primary - “Texans are fed up with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick's antics and deserve a choice on the Republican Primary ballot,” Milder said; Patrick’s campaign promised to weigh in today. read more arw

In a surprise move, House Speaker Joe Straus announced Wednesday he does not plan to run for re-election in 2018 — a move that could shake up Texas politics for years. "I believe that in a representative democracy, those who serve in public office should do so for a time, not for a lifetime. And so I want you to know that my family and I have decided that I will not run for re-election next year," Straus said in a campaign email. Straus' announcement immediately set off a scramble among members who are considering replacing him at the chamber's dais. Within hours, several members announced an interest in the seat. view article arw

Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus’ announcement that he wasn’t running for re-election sent shockwaves through the state political sphere. Imagining a Texas Legislature without Straus, often viewed as the adult in the room, is sickening. If you want to know why Texas’ politics are increasingly toxic, you need look no farther than the contrasting leadership styles of Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who’s in charge of the Texas Senate. Upon taking office, Patrick changed the majority needed to pass a bill from two-thirds to three-fifths. Because that chamber is more than three-fifths Republican, Patrick essentially ensured that he’d never need the Democrats’ approval to pass a bill.  view article arw

State Rep. Byron Cook, R-Corsicana, urged other Republican legislators to declare the “bathroom bill” dead. It will continue to hamper the state's economic development, he said, as long as corporate leaders and companies such as Amazon.com believe the bill could come back. “It's the elephant in the room, and it needs to be taken off the table,” Cook told the Herald-Press on Friday. “If that should happen, Texas has a legitimate shot (of getting) Amazon.com and others.  view article arw

Look at this, interesting - js - A nearly $61 billion state plan to rebuild Houston and the Texas coast after Hurricane Harvey includes funding for three "coastal spines" to control flooding, new reservoirs and buyouts of thousands of properties. view article arw

Teeth are gnashing and hands are wringing among Texas Democrats and moderate Republicans in the wake of bombshell news this week that House Speaker Joe Straus will depart the statehouse. The politician who ought to be most worried over the impending titanic shift, though, is Gov. Greg Abbott. view article arw

We have officially moved into the fall season, and with that comes the expectation of cooler weather, the changing of the leaves, time with family and one of my favorite fall traditions … hunting season. Whether you are into archery, rifles, ducks or deer, there are thankfully plenty of opportunities to hunt in East Texas. view article arw

If local state representatives Dade Phelan, James White and Joe Deshotel are still serving in January 2019, their first order of business will be clear. They should vote for a reasonable candidate to succeed Joe Straus as House Speaker. Phelan and White are Republicans, and their votes will be especially important since the GOP should easily retain control of the House. Democrats like Deshotel were able to vote in the past, but that could change. Hard-line Republicans, increasingly emboldened by mentors like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, want to restrict the speaker's vote to their party. That will make it easier for them to elect an extreme conservative instead of a consensus-builder like Straus. view article arw

Sure, House Speaker Joe Straus quaked Austin this week when he announced he won’t seek re-election. But the deeper rumbling at the Capitol is coming from the Panhandle, home to storied conservative independence. Those wondering what’s next in Austin should turn their attention toward Amarillo, from where tectonic shifts in Texas politics have long originated. Of the 16 Texas counties that bucked Lyndon Johnson for Barry Goldwater in 1964, eight were in the Panhandle. Goldwater begot Ronald Reagan, who the region backed against Gerald Ford in 1976, and who the state backed in 1980. view article arw

Gov. Greg Abbott and state Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, are set to discuss Confederate monuments on Capitol grounds today. Here's what you need to know:  view article arw

The unexpected retirement of the leading moderate Republican in Texas politics comes as Democrats struggle to find candidates to fill a statewide ballot for 2018 while unwavering conservatives emboldened by President Donald Trump line up big donors and face few party rivals. Republican House Speaker Joe Straus made the surprise departure announcement Wednesday just after his national profile soared because he scuttled a North Carolina-style "bathroom bill" targeting transgender people. Even the ACLU of Texas — usually a combatant with the ruling Texas GOP — tweeted its gratitude as Straus announced his exit. view article arw

Discord in Washington, D.C., Austin and throughout the rest of the nation has placed politics in the middle of a very bright spotlight. And although Texas legislators won’t reconvene until January 2019, there are significant takeaways from the state of politics and the economy “right now that matter to you enormously in the state of Texas,” said Evan Smith, chief executive officer and co-founder of the Texas Tribune.  Addressing the 55th annual meeting of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association on Thursday, Smith said, “Texas is more like D.C. than ever.” view article arw

Straus’ legacy

October 3008:31 AM
 

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. After indicating that he planned to stay on for an unprecedented sixth term as speaker last month, state Rep. Joe Straus has announced that he will not run for reelection to his San Antonio seat in the Texas House. When he steps down in 2019, Straus, a Republican, will have spent a decade as an unlikely icon of political moderation in Texas - tied for the longest-serving Speaker of the House. His time as leader in the state House began with controversy over his Jewish faith - "Straus is going down in Jesus' name," one conservative activist wrote in an email - and ended with him as king bogeyman for Texas right-wing ideologues. view article arw

After 10 years on the Burleson ISD board of trustees, Beverly Powell stepped down from her Place 6 seat during Monday night’s meeting to dedicate her time to run for District 10 of the Texas Senate in the Democratic Primary. District 10 covers Tarrant County, which includes a portion of Burleson.  “It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve my home school district as a school board trustee for the past 10 years,” Powell said.  view article arw

We have officially moved into the Fall season and with that comes the expectation of cooler weather, the changing of the leaves, time with family and one of my favorite fall traditions…hunting season. Whether you are into archery, rifles, ducks or deer, there are thankfully plenty of opportunities to hunt in East Texas. view article arw

Oil and gas industry leaders gathered Thursday for the Permian Basin Petroleum Association’s 55th annual meeting to hear from members of the Texas Legislature about the big issues in Austin. Among the biggest was education, and the main message was clear: “I will tell you that we need to have industry involvement more than ever in helping to educate our kids,” said state Sen. Charles Perry, District 28. view article arw

Sen. Kel Seliger talks state budget

October 3008:25 AM
 

State Sen. Kel Seliger came to the Electronics Technology Building at Odessa College Wednesday to discuss activities of the 85th legislature, including topics such as education, transportation and water. Around 10 people showed up to the town hall meeting, which started at 4:45 p.m. About half of those who showed up were city officials, namely City Councilwoman Barbara Graff, City Attorney Larry Long, Interim City Manager Michael Marrero and Sheriff Mike Griffis. view article arw