Bill White the Loser, HISD Declares

Houston ISD's assessment of the upcoming state legislative session on Monday began with the declaration that Bill White doesn't have a chance and that Rick Perry will continue as governor.

Rebecca Flores, the director of Government Relations for HISD, and board attorney David Thompson delivered their expectations during an afternoon agenda review prior to Thursday's board meeting.

"Gov. Perry has a sizeable lead. We expect no change," Flores told trustees. She also said there was a low probability of change in the Senate or speaker's race, but that Democrats may lose a few seats in the House, perhaps three to five.

From there the duo moved on to the state of Texas budget, which Thompson called "the worst it's been for decades." He estimated an $11 billion to $21 billion state revenue shortfall, and with only $9 billion in the state's rainy day fund cuts cannot be avoided.

With public education accounting for 44 percent of the state's budget expenses, there's no way to "save education" from the cuts, Thompson said.

For HISD, Thompson estimated this translates to a possible $50 million to $75 million in cuts.

"TEA is already waving the white flag on the extended-year session," Thompson said. That's troubling news for the ambitious Apollo 20 program, now in its first year with nine schools since one of its keystones is a longer school year. The district's waiver to start the year earlier at those schools is just good for one year.

HISD plans to ask for an end to what it calls "unfunded mandates" and among its legislative items plans to ask the Legislature for permission to charge more for any work it does in response to public information requests.

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