News Roundup: Texas House And Senate Propose Different Ways To Spend $9 Billion On Education

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelMarch 29, 2019 12:52 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

The Texas Senate is following in the footsteps of the Texas House with its latest proposal for public education funding, to the tune of $9 billion.

State Sen. Larry Taylor, a Friendswood Republican, gave an overview of how that money would be spent during a Senate Finance Committee hearing Thursday.

“So far, this buys in $4 billion for teacher pay. This bill has $2.3 billion for school finance. … It also has $2.7 billion in property tax relief for a total of about $9 billion this group is putting forward for public education in Texas,” Taylor said.

Even though both chambers are now proposing the same sum, the way each wants to spend that money is different. While the House wants to spend $2.7 billion on lowering property taxes, it wants the rest of the money to go toward boosting overall spending within public schools, such as funding full day pre-K.

Taylor noted he does expect the figures to change as the budget works its way through the legislative process.

“I know that at the end of the day, we’re going to take very large steps to improve our educational outcomes for our students,” Taylor said.

The Texas House is scheduled to debate its school finance plan next week.

The U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating Texas’ attempt to remove alleged non-citizens from the state’s voter rolls. Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings sent letters to state officials Thursday. KUT’s Ashley Lopez has more:

In his letter to Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, Cummings said his committee is “disturbed” by the state’s attempt to remove people from the state’s voter rolls. This past January, state officials announced they compiled a list of more than 90,000 people they believed might not be citizens. In that announcement, Whitley asked local election officials to verify or cancel voter registrations linked to those names. However, local officials, and eventually state officials, announced there were thousands of errors in that list. Mostly, the list contained thousands of names of people who were recently naturalized and eligible to vote. In the letter, Cummings asked Whitley to turn over documents related to this voter removal effort by April 11th. The committee also announced yesterday that they are also investigating “voter irregularities” in Kansas. A federal court ordered Texas officials last month to temporarily halt the voter removal effort as legal challenges work their way through the courts.

Former Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke is officially kicking off his 2020 presidential campaign with three events in Texas Saturday. The first rally will be held in his hometown of El Paso, followed by similar events in Houston and Austin.
O’Rourke and his wife Amy said in a video posted on Twitter this week that there will also be a thousand watch parties across the country Saturday.

“Go to one, meet the incredible people there and have an amazing time kicking off this grassroots campaign,” Amy O’Rourke said.

O’Rourke is one of two Texas Democrats running for president. The other is former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro.