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GOP School Finance Bill passed
12 March, 2005

Dear Friends,

We were in the House gallery yesterday morning and watched our Representatives pass HB 2, aka the School Finance Bill. While watching the votes being tallied, we weren't sure that the Bill was going to pass. The final vote was 75 yes's to 69 no's. The Tarrant County delegation split 5 to 5. The closeness of the vote surprised us, and the split among our local Reps. surprised us even more. Even more interesting, the split wasn't entirely along party lines. It wasn't even along rich and poor lines. It seemed to split on whether schools within each Rep.'s district were satisfied with the plan.

I must admit that I personally was uncertain how to interpret the vote. One local Rep. said the vote swing was based on "school district envy". i.e. not whether the plan provided enough for their particular district, but whether they "got as much as someone else". (Kind of sounds like professional athletes). There are probably several other reasons that some Reps. voted against the bill. (Please note that I do NOT wish to criticize ANY of our fine Reps. And Tarrant County does have several really good ones!) Not having read the bill, I can't say whether I personally like it or not. But I do know that the Legislature HAD to do something to correct the current situation.

I believe that every child in Texas should have the opportunity to receive a good education to make him/her a better citizen of this State....a citizen who contributes to the betterment of our society. Our future depends on it. But I do NOT agree that merely spending more money on education achieves that result. ($300,000 per year superintendents and multi-million dollar indoor practice facilities for football are examples of wasteful spending and neglectful oversight). Nor do I believe that every school district should have the same exact amount of money to spend. There should be a certain amount per student that is determined to be needed for a "good education". If a school district in a wealthier area decides to spend more, then let them...balanced of course by a cap on the property taxes to avoid a school district from getting out of hand. I think what all this will lead to is sponsorships and contributions or endowments being set up for certain wealthier schools that will be similar to those of our colleges and universities.

I suppose that the really big fight will be in the next few weeks as the legislature works out how to pay for all of this. It'll be worth watching!

Secretary of State Roger Williams was sworn in yesterday in a grand ceremony. The Senate Chamber was filled to overflowing....Standing room only in the gallery, with the floor filled with VIP's. What a wonderful testimony to the character of a man we can call our own. We got to hear some history of Roger, including his losing an election in elementary school (Monning) to Tom Schieffer, President Bush's newly appointed Ambassador to Japan. The ceremony was impressive and culminated in SOS Williams giving a rousing speech on marketing Texas to the world. Tarrant County was well represented by its numerous office holders and political activists.

Judge Paul Enlow


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