- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 20, 2005

DALLAS — The disputed system of providing money for the operation of Texas schools — the so-called “Robin Hood” plan — will remain solidly in place after another attempt to change it failed during a special legislative session.

Legislators left the state Capitol on Friday morning at the close of a second 30-day session — called by Republican Gov. Rick Perry to overhaul school funding — without reaching an agreement.

It was the fifth session in two years in which legislators could not come close to an agreement on how the state’s schools should be funded.

A state judge ruled last year that the system, called “Robin Hood” because it forces wealthy school districts to share their tax revenue with poorer ones, violates the state constitution.

State District Judge John Dietz of Austin said the current system, which relies heavily on local school property taxes, has become an unconstitutional statewide property tax and that the state does not adequately fund education. The state appealed the verdict, and the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments later this year in the case.

“The legislature tried, and they worked hard,” said House Speaker Tom Craddick, Midland Republican. “We just couldn’t get there.”

Although Mr. Craddick previously had expressed belief that the new school funding would come out of the latest special session, he said Friday he has thought for a long time that the legislature should wait to see how the state Supreme Court rules in the case before moving forward.

“I’m totally against the court drawing the plan,” he said, “but I think we need to see where we are.”

Mr. Perry had said he would continue to call special sessions until the goal of overhauling the system is achieved. However, it does not seem likely that another session will be called until after the court ruling.

“The public deserved better from their elected officials,” Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said.

Though many were disappointed, some said they thought no school plan was better than a bad one.

“I feel very strongly that if we couldn’t pass a good bill, that defeating a bad bill was the second-best accomplishment,” said Sen. Judith Zaffarini, Laredo Democrat.

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