Most Active Stories
Thu July 14, 2011
Local lawmakers talk 2011 legislative session
By Scott Harvey
Greenville – State Senator Bob Deuell and State Representative Dan Flynn addressed the recent legislative session Wednesday morning to a crowd in Greenville.
One of the main topics discussed by the two Northeast Texas lawmakers was school finance, both of whom this session fought for a change in the current target revenue system and inequity in school funding.
"We had to revamp the formulas to adjust for our decreased revenue. We put a mechanism in there to finally; it'll be awhile, about five to six years; to phase that out," Deuell said.
He added that should he be re-elected, he'll fight to speed up that process during the next legislative session in 2013. Deuell also commented on the controversial item that allows superintendents more flexibility when faced with budget issues.
"Instead of having to layoff a teacher they can reduce salaries on everyone. Superintendents wanted that, perhaps furlough some non-educational people in the district. Of course the teachers unions didn't like that. But it lets the school districts run their districts more like a business."
A bill by Representative Flynn that would have put a moratorium on standardized testing to allow school districts to recoup thousands each year passed by a near unanimous vote, but failed in the Senate.
"And why is it important?" Flynn asked. "Well, the TAKS test is 25 instructional days we've been using to teach that test. So we want to do the new STAAR test; it's going to take 45 days to instruct. It's just wrong, especially when it costs the State of Texas $483 million."
While the state approved a budget that will equal about a three percent cut to schools across the board, Deuell; a Greenville doctor, also pointed out that Medicaid providers will suffer too, with cuts of about ten percent.
"You can be insured and not have access. You can be uninsured and have access. If you're a Medicare or Medicaid patient; and 40 percent are duel eligible's, and you can't find someone to take care of you then you're essentially uninsured or don't have access to healthcare. So I've always tried to deal with those issues."
Representative Flynn noted that while this was one of the most publicized sessions, he feels it was a successful one. He was proud to be part of a legislature that passed a balanced budget, as required by the state constitution, which did not increase taxes or fees. Flynn was opposed to a redistricting map that he felt didn't meet the needs of his constituents. The map would also join him with District 3 Representative Erwin Cain's district, pitting the two against one another in the next election.
"I voted against the redistricting map because I felt it didn't adequately reflect what I felt our people were able to be represented by," Flynn said. "Of course it paired me against someone [Cain], which is another reason I guess I voted against it. We needed about 18,000 people to make House District 2 a full district. So House District 2 as it stands will be Van Zandt, Hunt and Hopkins County. So they cut Rains County away from me [and added Hopkins]."
During the public comment section, transportation was a big issue brought up, to which Sen. Deuell feels could be properly addressed with an increase in the state gas tax.
"Because I think that's solid consumption tax. It taxes what you drive, how much you drive...to back up to your first question about bonding for roads exclusively no that's not good public policy. We've not taken it past that bad point in my opinion but we're at that point where we need to start thinking about paying as you go."
The event was part of the Wake Up to the Issues series by the Greenville Chamber Convention and Visitors Bureau, and also sponsored by Trust Services, Inc.