Texas Lawmakers Take Up School Finance Again

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A 30-day special session of the Texas legislature got underway Monday. Once again, lawmakers are tackling school finance, trying to find a solution to a problem that has plagued the state for three years.

For Representative Fred Brown, the heat is on for school finance reform.

"The pressure's not only from the leadership end of it, but it's also from our constituency," he said. "Everybody's tired of us coming down here and coming back home with nothing."

And if nothing is what they come up with yet again, the state Supreme Court has ordered a school funding freeze. Good news came on Day 1 of the 30-day special session as the state comptroller's office announced an $8.2 billion dollar surplus, one College Station ISD superintendent Jimmy Creel hoped would be a temporary option.

"I would just caution the legislature against reaching in to that surplus for a long-term solution," Creel said. "It certainly could be part of a short-term solution."

"If we use a lot of this money from this huge surplus that we have, then it'll give us some time to craft something positive for the school systems," Brown said.

Brown was also part of another of Monday's talking points. He'll head up a group of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans called the House Public Education Caucus, calling for something Creel believes is necessary.

"In order to satisfy the court, they're going to have to give the local districts some discretionary authority," Creel said.

So as the fourth special session in two years began, there was certainly optimism in what has become a pessimistic front.

The Supreme Court's deadline for school finance reform is June 1. Otherwise, that freeze on funding goes into effect.