The Texas House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a supplemental budget bill that could send more than $10 million to Santa Fe Independent School District.
The money is a portion of a $9 billion budget bill, Senate Bill 500, that passed the Texas Senate on March 13, although in a different form that proposed $6 billion in spending.
The House’s version of the bill proposes the state take $4.3 billion from its economic stabilization fund, more commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund.
The same bill would send $2 billion to school districts and state agencies to reimburse costs incurred after Hurricane Harvey and $658 million to retired Texas teachers for a one-time pension bonus payment.
Santa Fe school officials have spent significant time in Austin this session asking legislators to support measures that would allocate money to school districts that have spent millions on security upgrades since a May 18 mass shooting at the district’s high school.
During testimony to the House Education Committee on Tuesday, Santa Fe ISD board President J.R. “Rusty” Norman and Superintendent Leigh Wall told legislators the school district was budgeted to spend $500,000 annually just to man the metal detectors the district installed after the shooting.
In addition to security staff, the school is relying on grant money for mental health counseling, grief counseling and social media monitoring, Norman said.
“We don’t have a good feel right now for how long we will need those things, but we know we’re going to need them for a significant amount of time,” Norman said.
The supplemental bill will now be sent back to the Senate, which must try to reconcile the spending differences.
PORT WAITS ON PILOT ISSUE
The Galveston Wharves Board of Trustees on Tuesday decided the best way to convince state leaders to make a change to the way pilot ship tariffs are handled is to wait a little longer.
Earlier this month, state Sen. Larry Taylor filed a bill that would add the directors of both the ports of Texas City and Galveston to the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Galveston County as non-voting, ex-officio commissioners.
That proposal doesn’t fall in line with what the wharves board was hoping for: the ability to approve or disapprove of changes to the amount of money local pilots charge to ships they guide into the port.
Local port officials said such a change would put Galveston on equal footing with most other Texas ports, which are able to vote on rate increases. (Unlike some ports, Galveston’s wharves board and pilot board are separate entities.)
With the session now getting to the point where legislators are debating and approving bills, Galveston Mayor Jim Yarbrough said it might be better to ask Taylor to back away from his measure, rather than pursue an idea that doesn’t do what the board had hoped for.
”I don’t want to get this ex-officio position and then come back two years later and say ‘We really want parity,’” Yarbrough, who also is a wharves trustee, said. “I want to pull it all off the table and wait two years and do it again.”
The board directed port Director Rodger Rees to advise Taylor on the port’s new stance on the bill.
After U.S. Attorney General William Barr released his four-page letter about the Mueller Report, U.S. Rep. Randy Weber said: “The report is over, and it confirmed something we knew all along: Special Counsel Mueller concluded there is no evidence of collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russia. That’s that.” ... There are 60 days remaining in the Texas Legislative session. ... There are 37 days remaining until the May 4 local election. The last day to register to vote in that election is May 4.