Election Update - Texas Association of Community Schools

Election update –
What do the results mean for Texas
public education?
Plus, tips to be indispensable to your
Texas State Capitol
Lay of the Land
• All new “statewides”; first time since 2002.
• Large Senate turnover – 8 (26%).
• 20-year average turnover rates: 3 (9.6%)
in Senate & 27 (18%) & House.
• Average last two elections, higher turnover:
4 (13%) in Senate & 38 (25%) in House. In
2014: 8 (26% - higher) & 25 (17% - average).
• Majority of House members (76 – 51%) are
currently either freshmen or sophomores.
• 28% of Senate & 24% of House Committees –
their Chairs are not returning including
Finance, HAC & Senate Ed.
Impact on Education-related
• Senate Ed: Dan Patrick (Lt. Gov.-elect); Ken
Paxton (AG-elect); Van de Putte (lost Lt. Gov.
race but still in Senate – will Patrick reappoint
her back to Senate Ed?
• Senate Finance: only change in membership
of the current committee is that Patrick is now
Lt. Gov.-elect; who will he appoint?
• House Public Ed: Davis, John (choose note
to run for re-election; Ratliff (defeated in
primary); *Villarreal (will resign to run for San
Antonio mayor in 2015)
Impact on Education-related
• Higher Ed: Branch (Chair; lost primary race
for AG); Patrick, Diane (Vice-Chair; lost
primary race).
• HAC – Article III s/c: Patrick, Diane; &
84th Texas Senate
• Eight* (26%) new Senators – Senate losing 138
years of experience.
• *Special election to be held to replace SD 18
Senator Hegar, the newly elected CPA.
• Partisan balance shifting slightly from 19 Rs
(61%) & 12 Ds (39%) to 20 Rs (65%) and 11
Ds (35%).
• Senate rules require a 2/3 “vote” or 21 votes to
bring up bills for floor debate. Will Lt. Gov.elect fulfill a campaign promise (threat) to
eliminate or modify the 2/3 rule?
84th Texas House
• Balance of power between Rs will go from 95
(63%) to 98 (65%) & Ds go from 55 (37%)
to 52 (35%). Rs pick up 3 seats.
• Additionally: Rep. Mike Villarreal (D-San
Antonio) will resign to run for mayor (05/2015).
• Rep. Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) will run
for SD 18 to replace Senator Hegar (he drew a
four-year term in 2013) was elected
comptroller of public accounts.
• 25 (17%) freshmen; loss of at least 228 years
of experience.
Institutional Knowledge vs.
Fresh Ideas
• Lack of experience:
 84th: 25 (17%) of House & 8 (26%) Senate.
 83rd: 41 (27%)House & 5 (16%) Senate freshmen.
 82nd: 35 (23%)House & 2 (6%) Senate freshmen.
 Currently, 7 (22.5%) of Senators are in first or
second term.
 Currently, a majority (76 – 50.6%) of House
members are in first or second term.
 New Lieutenant Governor.
• House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio, HD
121) will be the “elder” statesman going in to his
4th term as Speaker.
Background &
Things to keep in mind:
• Very few legislative offices have the resources to
hire staff dedicated solely to education issues.
• Legislative offices have limited budgets to run
their Capitol and District offices:
 Senators receive $38,000 month or $456,000 year.
 House members receive $13,250 a month or
$159,000 a year.
 Amounts could change as both adopt their policies
and procedures for 2015.
• SDs: 811,150 vs.
HDs: 167,600 residents.
Background &
Things to keep in mind:
• Many offices use unpaid interns or low-paid
staffers as session only employees – typically
college/law/public affairs students building
their résumés.
• Time demands on legislators & staff – 140-day
regular session to get it all done; however,
internal rules & deadlines crunch time demands
even further.
• These things combine to give YOU an opening
to educate members and staff on education
Challenging Issues
• General Appropriations Act – state budget
• School finance –
System declared unconstitutional by district judge;
Order stayed until July 1, 2015;
State has appealed to the Texas Supreme Court;
Hearing will be probably be held before the start of
84th session in January (01/13/2015);
 Attitude among legislators will be “let’s not do
anything until directed to by the Supremes.”
 Possible ruling mid-session – if ruling upheld, will
there be time to craft new system? (Hint: don’t plan
any June vacations.)
 Others: accountability, assessments, ESCs, expansion
of charters/choice/vouchers.
How to become legislators’ &
staffers’ new BFF
• Tips to keep in mind:
 You are the education professional.
 They need you to share your experience &
 Often, legislators & staff “don’t know what they
don’t know.”
 Share critical information about the district: finance
status; student body; growth or no growth;
accountability ratings; trends and projections;
education associations the district belongs to; key
personnel & contact information; give them info
packet or flash drive with key information included.
How to become legislators’ &
staffers’ new BFF
 When providing information, don’t overwhelm
with education jargon and acronyms.
 Invite them to your district – bring out the dogs
& ponies. Tell your story (warts & all); save surprises
for birthdays.
 Don’t threaten with future electoral challenges if
the legislators vote differently than you wanted –
agree to disagree on issues if necessary.
 Pledge to work together to find common ground
on other issues.
How to become legislators’ &
staffers’ new BFF
 Visit District and Capitol offices regularly – before,
during and after legislative session; however, don’t
“camp out” in their offices while you wait for a
hearing to begin or bill to be heard. They have lots to
do every day!
 Don’t wait to make special requests: local bills;
resolutions; flags; visits.
 Be flexible, if possible.
 Keep them informed about the affect of proposed
legislation & finance proposals will have on your
district – base your position on what is best for your
school district.
 Be specific on how proposals will affect your district
– either positively or negatively – backup with
facts and data.
How to become legislators’ &
staffers’ new BFF
 Inform them of your position before proposed
legislation comes up in a hearing or is scheduled for a
vote. Alert them if you are testifying and your
position, particularly if you are testifying
against a bill filed by your legislator.
 Remember that legislators, for the most part, only
want to hear from their own constituents.
 Do not send form letters, petitions, robo-calls or form
“e-mail blasts.”
 Remember to say “thank you” to members & staff.
It’d be funny if this cartoon didn’t
depict the truth!
Resources – Helpful
• Texas Legislature On-line:
• Texas Legislative Council http://www.tlc.state.tx.us/
• Senate Research Center http://www.senate.state.tx.us/SRC/Index.htm
• House Research Organization http://www.hro.house.state.tx.us/
• Sunset Advisory Commission – TEA limited
scope review (SAC decisions: December) and UIL
(SAC decisions in 08/2014) https://www.sunset.texas.gov/reviews-and-reports
Trish Conradt
TACS Legislative Assistant
Office – 512-440-8227
Cell – 512-917-8782
E-mail - [email protected]

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