- Speaker Joe Straus/Facebook
On Wednesday, San Antonio’s own Joe Straus criticized Abbott’s artisanal, handheld menu of legislative issues, and likened the governor’s farm-to-fork entrées to manure-to-mouth table scraps.
According to the Texas Tribune, the Texas House Speaker – talking to a crammed room of superintendents and school board members at the Texas Association of School Boards’ yearly summer leadership institute – blasted the Texas Senate’s so-called cloak-and-dagger strategy of focusing on piddly bathroom bill legislation rather than tackling real-deal issues such as public-education funding.
Straus’ opening salvo included “a joke about an optimistic boy who surprises his psychiatrist when he gets excited by ‘a room full of horse manure,’ reports the Trib. “The boy said, ‘With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere,’” said Straus during the TASB conference at the Marriott Rivercenter.
Two bills that rotted in the Texas House during the 2017 Lege – establishing a commission to study school finance reform, and creating a voucher-esque program to bankroll private school and homeschooling costs for kids with disabilities – are among the 20 items Abbott laid out for the special session, which can last up to 30 days.
“Even if we approved vouchers, they still cut out the vast majority of the funding we had proposed for public schools, so there was hardly anything left,” said Straus, who added that the Senate made approximately $1 billion in public school funds go poof.
Abbott also seeks to green light a bill, which passed the Senate but died in the House during the 85th Legislature, that would prevent government agencies from deducting union dues from public employees' paychecks, something that organizations like the Association of Texas Professional Educators call shamefully "anti-teacher."
“After one of the most divisive sessions in recent memory, it’s sad to see Gov. Greg Abbott call lawmakers back to Austin specifically to attack teachers,” ATPE lobbyist Mark Wiggins said last week in a prepared statement. “Texas educators work hard to lift children of all backgrounds and shape them to become future leaders. This bill continues to be marketed under false pretenses and is nothing more than a slap in the face to teachers.”