Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What Does It Take To Say Yes?

Last week, the Texas House passed HB 21, a bill introduced by Chairman Huberty that is intended to start the process of fixing a broken school finance system, one that the Supreme Court said met "minimum constitutional requirements".  The bill passed on a vote of 134-16 and what amazes me in this is not that 16 representatives (predictably based on looking at the list) voted against it but that those who did seem clueless about the charge by the Court to address the problems of equity and adequacy of school funding.

But maybe we shouldn't be surprised.  After all, for many, politics in Austin has evolved from working to address the needs of those they were elected to serve to focusing on how to add to their own resume.  This probably applies to both those against and in favor of changes in school finance so some of the votes have to be looked at from that perspective.  There are some who represent North Texas who will pretty much vote NO on anything regardless of what their constituents want.  But we keep electing them.

Without question, there are leaders and followers in Austin.  Calling some of them "leaders" may not be an accurate characterization of what they are actually doing but that doesn't mean that they cannot exert influence.  One need only look at the Senate where the LG's top two priorities will likely not reach the governor this session ... but it doesn't mean he won't continue to try.  Nor does it mean that he won't continue to try to use his position and authority in his interactions with his peers and those in the House.

What does it take to say yes, however?  By the way, I am not saying that all legislation warrants a "Yes" vote; there certainly is bad legislation that should be opposed.  But in the case of the discussion about school finance, and statements by the Supreme Court that responsibility for addressing the "Byzantine" school finance system falls to the legislature, something has to give.  As near as I can tell, nay votes by at least three North Texas representatives are more "because I can" votes than votes that are grounded in a specific political philosophy.  The only way for them to justify their votes is to acknowledge an allegiance to a party ideology, not to those they were supposedly elected to serve.

As voters, we are owed an explanation for the votes that the 16 representatives cast against HB 21.  Perhaps there is rationale behind their votes that would benefit all of us.  To actually expect that we will receive one?  Not likely.  In the end, we need to celebrate and support those who support public education, those that make education a priority and those that know how to say "YES".

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