Texas voters approved the rainy day fund’s creation in 1988 as an emergency piggy bank to rescue state government in case future leaders faced the sort of oil and gas crash that beset the state budget in the 1980s.  Now, with another sharp drop in oil prices — combined with the far-reaching effects of the coronavirus — wreaking havoc on the state’s economy, will Gov. Greg Abbott see fit to dip into the $8.5 billion dollar fund?  He’s not saying.  Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who provides state leaders with revenue projections, is already sounding alarm bells, saying he expects rainy day fund spending to be necessary to keep up core government work.  Unemployment numbers mount; restaurants and retail stores are shuttered; and oil prices remain in the cellar, down by two-thirds since January. With sales and other consumption taxes making up the lion’s share of state general revenues, a $3 billion budget surplus projected by Hegar last year has evaporated. view article arw

Texas voters approved the rainy day fund’s creation in 1988 as an emergency piggy bank to rescue state government in case future leaders faced the sort of oil and gas crash that beset the state budget in the 1980s.  Now, with another sharp drop in oil prices — combined with the far-reaching effects of the coronavirus — wreaking havoc on the state’s economy, will Gov. Greg Abbott see fit to dip into the $8.5 billion dollar fund?  He’s not saying.  Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who provides state leaders with revenue projections, is already sounding alarm bells, saying he expects rainy day fund spending to be necessary to keep up core government work.  Unemployment numbers mount; restaurants and retail stores are shuttered; and oil prices remain in the cellar, down by two-thirds since January. With sales and other consumption taxes making up the lion’s share of state general revenues, a $3 billion budget surplus projected by Hegar last year has evaporated. view article arw

A May vote on whether to continue funding the citywide Pre-K 4 SA program could be postponed because of the spread of coronavirus.  The board that governs the early childhood education entity on Thursday recommended that City Council move the election slated for May 2 to Election Day, Nov. 3. view article arw

WASHINGTON — It took a pandemic to get Democratic and Republican senators to work together. It is a testament to COVID-19's devastating impact on the American economy and to public health that members of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday night unanimously supported a bill so sweeping, so expensive, that it touches almost every part of American life and will, if it passes the U.S. House on Friday, cost three times as much as the bank bailout of 2008. view article arw

Caught between growing conservative opposition to business restrictions and Democrats pushing for a statewide shelter-in-place order, Gov. Greg Abbott opted Tuesday to continue as before — but warned that he has not ruled out a stricter response if needed. "The best thing we can do to get the economy going is to get COVID-19 behind us," Abbott said. "We must bend the curve of the growth of coronavirus in Texas. As soon as we do that, the economy will come roaring back."  Abbott said the stay-at-home orders adopted by Travis and Williamson counties and other areas, which include the temporary closing of nonessential businesses, go much further than his executive order limiting gatherings of 10 or more. view article arw

Go ahead and die, Dan

March 2508:40 AM
 

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, chiming in to support President Donald Trump’s new focus on the economy over fierce warnings from public health officials, suggested on Fox News on Monday night that he would rather die from the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus than see instability in the American economic system.  “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’ And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in,” he said. “And that doesn’t make me noble or brave or anything like that. view article arw

The May 26 primary election runoffs will be delayed until July in response to the growing outbreak of the new coronavirus in Texas under an order signed Friday by Gov. Greg Abbott.  Abbott signed the postponement under the emergency powers of his previous statewide disaster declaration. Dozens of runoffs are ongoing for party nominations to congressional and local offices. The most prominent is the contest between former Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar and state Sen. Royce West of Dallas for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn. view article arw

In the most aggressive statewide move yet to combat the coronavirus pandemic in Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a series of directives Thursday that limit social gatherings to no more than 10 people, close all schools and restrict bars and restaurants. The order, which is effective midnight Friday until at least April 3, also ends most visitation at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. It came as Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt declared a public health disaster, the first in more than 100 years.   (20) view article arw

The four orders serve to limit public gatherings and help reduce exposure for people across the state. view article arw

With an extended spring break, many parents are wondering how this impacts the school year, and STAAR testing. Most ask-will my child have to make up days missed due to COVID-19 cancellation? The Red Oak ISD Superintendent addresses some of those concerns. view article arw

For the first time since 2008, more Texans voted in the Democratic presidential primary than in the Republican primary — but just barely.  With all polling places tallied Thursday, Democrats had cast 2,076,046 votes in the pitched contest to take on President Donald Trump in November. Meanwhile, Republicans cast 2,008,385 votes in the presidential contest. Overall, a small majority of votes — 2,071,745 — came during early voting, and 2,012,686 were cast on election day, according to the Texas secretary of state’s office. view article arw

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has canceled Senate committee hearings this month, citing concerns about the coronavirus.  Patrick said he made the move after consulting with committee leaders.  “Public testimony is important — we want to hear the voice of every Texan and make sure they are comfortable traveling to committee hearings,” a Patrick spokesperson said in an email. “Lt. Gov. Patrick believes this step is the prudent thing to do at this time as Texas continues ongoing efforts to contain and mitigate the impact of COVID-19.”  The Senate Select Committee on Mass Violence Prevention and Community Safety was scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday, but an updated online notice said the public meeting would be postponed to a later date “out of an abundance of caution given the recent public health events occurring around the globe.” view article arw

The Austin school district found itself in a conundrum. It needed a modern sexual education curriculum and found one by a Canadian public health care provider. The problem was the Canadian system offers abortions, and Texas law bars public agencies from paying or supporting groups that do. view article arw

But primary reveals the impact of massive charter-school donations  Congratulations to all of our endorsed candidates who won on Tuesday night and those who made it into run-offs! We know these candidates will be fierce advocates for public education, and we look forward to supporting them in November.   We also would like to thank all of our members who voted and volunteered on campaigns leading up to the primary. The hard work showed, and in races we tracked members turned out at nearly double the average rate through early voting! view article arw

State Rep. Harold Dutton said Thursday he has hired a private investigator to look into the candidacy of Natasha Ruiz, an opponent who forced him into a runoff despite never establishing a presence in the race.  Dutton, a Houston Democrat and one of the longest serving members of the Texas House, said he may contest the result of the election depending on what the investigation yields. None of Ruiz’s three opponents — Dutton, Houston Councilman Jerry Davis and transportation logistics executive Richard Bonton — have ever seen Ruiz or found any evidence that she had a campaign.  The news, first reported by ABC 13, comes after Dutton finished first in the four-candidate primary for House District 142, which covers parts of northeast Houston and Harris County, including Fifth Ward and Kashmere Gardens. view article arw

Long headless, the Legislative Budget Board has a new director: Jerry McGinty of Huntsville, the chief financial officer of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  He takes the helm of a troubled agency that has lacked a leader since October 2018. The organization’s scores of employees are charged with providing state lawmakers nonpartisan budget analyses they can use to make decisions on the state’s two-year, $250 billion budget.  McGinty has worked at TDCJ for nearly three decades, serving also as budget director and in human resources and communications roles, according to an announcement Thursday from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. view article arw

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Long time Democratic State Representative Harold Dutton was forced into a runoff Tuesday night, but a ghost candidate may have helped make that happen.  Dutton, who has long represented House District 142 in northeast Houston, already faced a formidable challenger in Houston City Council Member Jerry Davis. However, the only female name on the ballot is what's raising eyebrows.   "When you're leading, you're never at a disadvantage," said Dutton, "But I think there are a lot of questions about what happened in this election.   (06) view article arw

Congratulations to our winners!  Note: Please do not forward this email from a school district computer or device read more arw

DALLAS, March 4, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The Commit Partnership and Educate Texas are proud to announce the launch of the Texas Impact Network, a joint venture focused on collectively building capacity within school systems across the state of Texas through strong regional partnerships supporting effective implementation of optional state-funded, student-focused policies.  All support from the Texas Impact Network will be funded principally through philanthropic contributions and will be provided at no cost to participating school systems.  In June 2019, the 86th Texas Legislature passed House Bill 3 (HB3), a landmark multi-billion dollar school finance package that drove substantial funding toward equitable strategies to directly benefit students who need it the most. view article arw

An elementary school teacher at Judson Independent School District has been arrested for aggravated sexual assault of a child, according to an arrest affidavit. Ryan Patrick England, 33, a first-grade teacher at Elolf Elementary School, was arrested Wednesday after inappropriately touching an 8-year-old student, the affidavit states. view article arw

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A Republican agitator who has called President Donald Trump a child rapist and posts risque images of women on social media advanced to a runoff in Tuesday’s primary for a seat on the influential Texas State Board of Education.  Robert Morrow has long been a thorn for Texas Republicans. He’ll face either Lani Popp, a San Antonio area public school speech pathologist, or Inga Cotton, who heads a nonprofit that supports families choosing charter schools, in the May runoff for the central Texas district. view article arw

2020 primary results: State races

March 0408:02 AM
 

I’m going to direct you to the Texas Tribune results page, which combines both parties’ results and is a couple orders of magnitude less sucky than the revamped SOS election night results pages. Good Lord, whoever designed that “upgrade” from the lower-tech previous version should be banished to a desert island. We’re gonna do bullet points here: view article arw

Tomorrow is Election Day!

March 0308:40 AM
 

Tomorrow is Election Day!  Please VOTE!  view article arw

Tuesday's elections will trim dozens and dozens of would-be officeholders from the ballots, setting the table for a number of consequential runoffs and for a highly contested and anticipated general election in Texas. view article arw

Even though the 87th Texas Legislature is a year away, Lewisville ISD is already forming its game plan on how to get its priorities across to lawmakers.  School Board members said the key is to the make the list of priorities short yet impactful.  Even better if it can fit on the back of a business card, Trustee Jenny Proznik said. view article arw

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Schools around the country are using Digital Learning Day to showcase how pivotal technology is to helping students learn.  15 WFISD schools allowed administrators and community members to tour several campuses throughout the city to show how technology helps reach students in this generation.  At Rider High School, students were using Chromebooks and teachers were using phones. view article arw

The great philosopher and author, Dr. Seuss, once wrote..."Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not." read more arw

The state House Public Education Committee on Tuesday considered more than 30 bills aimed at making Texas public schools safer, including measures that would put more armed personnel on campuses and give districts money for sweeping security changes. The Legislature has made improving school safety a priority this session after 10 people, mostly students, were shot and killed at Santa Fe High School 10 months ago. The shooting spurred roundtable discussions and studies among policymakers, lawmakers and Gov. Greg Abbott in the immediate aftermath. “Out of that loss, we have an opportunity to devote ourselves and commit ourselves to seeing that their loss was not in vain and that future students, future teachers, future families in this state will, if at all possible, not have to experience what these individuals experienced,” said Rep. Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, during Tuesday’s hearing. view article arw

Property tax reform has been a top priority for Texas lawmakers from the start of the 86th legislative session. The early filing of identical, wide-reaching bills in the House and Senate in January—Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 2—sparked debate on the topic and earned pushback from many local entities that could be affected by the proposals. The twin bills propose to lower the cap for local entities’ annual tax revenue growth from 8 percent to 2.5 percent and to improve efficiency and transparency in the tax system. The proposals were fast-tracked for debate in both chambers after Gov. Greg Abbott declared property tax an emergency item in February, and dozens of related bills have been filed in their wake. view article arw

Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller are back on the lesson plan after a vote by the Texas State Board of Education. The committee voted 12-2, with one abstention, on Tuesday to continue teaching students about Clinton in high school history classes, according to State Board of Education Director Debbie Ratcliffe. The board also voted to keep Keller on the curriculum. The vote reverses a September preliminary decision to cut the women, along with 1964 Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater and several other historical figures, from the required curriculum. The board said then that the change was intended to streamline the curriculum for its 5.4 million students at the recommendation of volunteer work groups. view article arw

School finance was the big-ticket item this legislative session, said Emett Alvarez, Victoria Democrats Club president. "Education should be important to everyone," Alvarez said. "We are all taxpayers and are affected by it one way or the other." The Victoria County Democratic Party will host its club meeting Tuesday at VeraCruz Restaurant, 3110 N. Navarro St. Guest speakers will be Dwight Harris, former president of the Victoria chapter of the Texas American Federation of Teachers, and Ray Thomas, who is running for chief justice of the 13th Court of Appeals. view article arw

Will there ever come a day when our state leaders and lawmakers want to make Texas as good a place for children as it is for business? The 85th legislative session didn't seem often inclined in that direction, particularly in matters related to educating the state's schoolchildren. A massive funding failure for prekindergarten students. The state Senate's defeatist response to a solid House attempt at school finance reform. Out-of-proportion talk about vouchers for those attending private schools. But let's not overlook a couple of bright spots. Thanks to skillful work by three North Texas lawmakers, the state's youngest learners should eventually get the gift of better-prepared teachers. view article arw

Back in March, James Dickey, then the chairman of the Travis County Republican Party, showed up at the state Capitol to testify in support of House Bill 1911 — a proposal known as constitutional carry, or the ability to carry firearms without a license. It was a top legislative priority for the state GOP, and Dickey brought a message tailored for the Republicans on the House panel considering it: Don't forget the platform. "The plank which said we should have constitutional carry scored a 95 percent approval rate, outscoring over 80 percent of the other planks in the option," Dickey said, referring to the party platform — a 26-page document outlining the party's positions that is approved by delegates to its biennial conventions. Constitutional carry, Dickey added, "is something very clearly wanted by the most active members of the Republican Party in Texas." view article arw

Contention over where transgender people use the restroom has clouded much of the 2017 legislative session and has expanded to cover other issues such as property tax policy and school finance as lawmakers push to complete their work by Monday. After Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick served notice that the scaled-back version of the so-called bathroom bill recently approved by the Texas House was a non-starter in the Senate, the upper chamber in the predawn hours Wednesday made an end-run effort to save the stronger measure that fell victim to legislative deadlines. But by the time the sun rose over the Capitol, it was clear that the House would kill the measure again. view article arw

An effort to overhaul the state’s beleaguered school finance system has been declared dead after the Texas Senate Education Committee’s chairman said Wednesday that he would not appoint conferees to negotiate with the House. “That deal is dead,” Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, said. Taylor’s remarks come after his counterpart in the House, Dan Huberty, R-Houston, gave a passionate speech in which he said he would not accept the Senate’s changes to House Bill 21 and would seek a conference committee with the Senate. view article arw