The Week Ahead at the State Capitol

Notable committee hearings for the coming week touch on taxes, the budget, and education policy. Here’s a sampling:

–Senate Finance Subcommittee on Public Education Funding:  This panel of seven senators is expected to produce a new recommendation on the state budget for public schools by the end of the coming week. Meanwhile the subcommittee will continue to look at ways to revamp the school-finance system and improve on the dismal first draft of the state budget, which has school districts all over the state preparing for mass layoffs of teachers and other school personnel.

–House Appropriations Committee:  A subcommittee on public and higher education will begin forwarding proposals on the education budget to the full committee next week. The subcommittee heard further testimony from the commissioner of education today. Commissioner Robert Scott once more said that the state’s ambitious goals for educational achievement under the new STAAR accountability system cannot be met with the low levels of funding provided in the initial budget draft.

–The House Ways and Means Committee:  This key tax-writing panel will begin to hear bills on Monday, including a worthy one by Rep. Mike Villarreal, Democrat of San Antonio, that would close obsolete tax exemptions and recapture $10 million the state is giving away for no good reason each year. It is to be hoped that Villarreal’s HB 658 is just the beginning of a systematic repeal of the loopholes that divert billions of dollars a year from the state treasury.

–Senate Education Committee: This Senate committee with jurisdiction over education policy on Tuesday will consider bills affecting school districts’ grading policies and teacher induction and mentoring programs. Look for more detail on these and other bills in upcoming Hotlines.

–Senate Finance Committee:  The full, 15-member committee on Wednesday will hold a public hearing on the budget for the Texas Teacher Retirement System and for higher-education employees’ health insurance, among other topics.

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