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Election update – What do the results mean for Texas public education? Plus, tips to be indispensable to your legislators 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Election update – What do the results mean for Texas public education? Plus, tips to be indispensable to your legislators 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Election update – What do the results mean for Texas public education? Plus, tips to be indispensable to your legislators 1

2 Texas State Capitol

3 Lay of the Land All new “statewides”; first time since 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.

4 Impact on Education-related Committees 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)

5 Impact on Education-related Committees Higher Ed: Branch (Chair; lost primary race for AG); Patrick, Diane (Vice-Chair; lost primary race). HAC – Article III s/c: Patrick, Diane; & Ratliff

6 84 th 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?

7 84 th 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.

8 Institutional Knowledge vs. Fresh Ideas Lack of experience:  84 th : 25 (17%) of House & 8 (26%) Senate.  83 rd : 41 (27%)House & 5 (16%) Senate freshmen.  82 nd : 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 4 th term as Speaker.

9 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 SDs: 811,150 vs. HDs: 167,600 residents.

10 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 issues.

11 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 84 th 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.

12 How to become legislators’ & staffers’ new BFF Tips to keep in mind:  You are the education professional.  They need you to share your experience & expertise.  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.

13 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.

14 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.

15 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 “ blasts.”  Remember to say “thank you” to members & staff.

16 It’d be funny if this cartoon didn’t depict the truth!

17 Resources – Helpful Websites Texas Legislature On-line: Texas Legislative Council - Senate Research Center - House Research Organization - 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 https://www.sunset.texas.gov/reviews-and-reports

18 Questions? Trish Conradt TACS Legislative Assistant Office – Cell –


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