After a stumbling start on July 18, the assault on public education led by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is gathering momentum in the Texas Senate where he presides. At midnight tonight, Patrick expects to complete action on the one must-pass bill of the special session and then, with the help of an expansion of the session’s agenda by Gov. Greg Abbott, to force quick committee hearings over the weekend on a lengthy list of bad bills.
The must-pass bill is a simple extension for two years of the expiration date for the state medical licensing board and four similar agencies while they undergo so-called sunset review. Patrick and allies blocked passage of the bill in the regular session in May precisely so they could force the governor to call a special session. The successful ploy has led to the special session that began yesterday and now affords Patrick and company a new chance to pass ill-conceived state edicts on everything from transgender children’s bathroom options, to new private-school voucher schemes, to unfunded school-finance mandates, to the takeaway of your freedom to choose payroll deduction of your union dues.
Educators and friends of public education need to fight back now against this impending onslaught. For starters, you can send an e-letter to lawmakers from the Texas AFT legislative-action website opposing the whole Patrick/Abbott assault on public education.
Then please stand ready to act on upcoming action alerts in anticipation of Senate committee hearings that we have learned will unfold according to the following schedule:
Friday, July 21: The Senate Education Committee will consider private-school voucher bills and some school-finance issues; the Senate State Affairs Committee will take up proposed state mandates on schoolchildren’s bathroom use.
Saturday, July 22: The Senate Finance Committee will hear what the governor and lieutenant governor have in mind for teacher pay (with both claiming they can raise teacher pay without providing any new state funding to pay for it, simply by ordering school districts to “reprioritize” their already thinly stretched budgets). The Finance panel will also take up bills to impose arbitrary and onerous new caps on state and local spending. And a new select committee will consider state edicts to local governments, including community colleges, that would override local decisions on the revenue needed to meet local needs.
Sunday, July 23: The Senate Business and Commerce Committee reportedly will convene at 2 pm Sunday to hear a bill that would forbid you to use your paycheck as you see fit, banning payroll deduction of union or association dues. SB 7 by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) is a blatant attempt to stifle your voice and squelch your resistance to the assault on public education. Look for new tools you can use to fight back in the next couple of Hotline messages.