Are you buying the spin on the special session? It goes something like this, none of this would be happening if state Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) wouldn’t have filibustered at the end of the regular session. But that’s absolutely false. The only thing that Davis’ filibuster changed was the timing of when the special session was called. It’s likely without Davis’ filibuster the special session wouldn’t have started until July.
From a recent Texas Observer article this seems to be the media spin and what is causing much of the angst.
It’s been a week since the Fort Worth Democrat filibustered the controversial school finance compromise in the last week of the regular legislative session and forced a special session to deal with the budget cuts to education. In that week, the Senate has moved at lightening speed, passing not only the school finance plan that Davis and other Democrats found reprehensible, but also Senate Bill 8, which allows school districts to furlough teachers and cut their pay, as well as making it easier to fire them. These were all measures teachers’ groups successfully killed during the regular session.
Senate Republicans passed SB 8 Monday and had already approved the $4 billion cut to school districts on Friday. They also stuck with the unwieldy school-finance compromise forged during the regular session. The school-finance plan distributes the unprecedented $4 billion in cuts across an already vastly unequal system. In the first year of the biennium, it cuts $2 billion by slicing approximately 6 percent from all districts, poor as well as rich. In the second year, those districts getting more money per kid must bear $1.5 billion in cuts, while the poorest districts take a total of $500 million in cuts. Critics say the plan does little to rectify the unequal funding school districts receive from the state and cuts from poor school districts that are already limping along.
In other words, the Senate hasn’t changed its approach to school finance, but it has revived many of the controversial bills that advocates and Democrats successfully killed in the regular session. Now the fate of the education cuts, the school finance plan and SB 8 all rest in the House—which, with a Republican supermajority, has been more in lockstep than the Senate.
But the reality is no one really knows if those controversial issues would not have passed in the regular session. While the bills were dead, the issues were still likely to be added to SB 1811 if Davis had not filibustered. As far as the rest of the things that have been added to the call – TWIA, so-called “sanctuary cities”, Congressional redistricting, etc…all would have been added to any special session call.
What we can look back at recent history as a guide to what is likely to happen in a special session. When given an opportunity to use their advantage to payback those who keep them in office the Texas GOP takes it every single time. In the regular session both the Senate and House took unprecedented steps, changing long-standing rules, that just a few sessions ago would have made Tom Craddick blush. Therefore we can surmise that any special session called this summer would be very similar, if no identical, to this one.
The reason for the blame-Davis mantra is an attempt by the GOP to get the media to absolve them of all the bad bills that are about to pass. If we all would have just stopped fighting, let the GOP alone, and gave them a pass at the end of the regular session they would have taken pity on public education, teachers, undocumented workers, etc.., and that is not the case.
Anyone who thinks the Texas GOP would not use their advantage to push an extreme right wing agenda , no matter when the special session occurred, is fooling themselves. The question is would we have been better off if they waited a month before doing this? The answer is no. At this point the what’s most sad about this is that there is not a unified, consistent, and constant push back on this from those opposed to this – Texans, Democrats, teachers, parents, and those concerned about treating all people with dignity and respect they deserve.
Don’t buy the spin! This was going to happen no matter what Wendy Davis did.