More Spanking for Perry on Community College Veto

Dewhurst and Zaffirini take action on governor's community colleges veto

The hornet’s nest stirred up by Gov. Rick Perry’s veto of $154 million in community college funding continues to buzz. As we’ve previously reported, the veto fight – which could be dubbed “Rick Perry vs. the World,” if that name weren’t already taken by a political blog – stems from Perry’s line-item veto of state funds that he said community colleges were improperly requesting for certain employees’ health insurance. Perry says state law mandates that those workers must be covered with local funds – and that the colleges have committed fraud by doing otherwise – which drew a flurry of furious op-eds from several legislators and community college presidents, the latter of whom say they’ll have to slash their budgets, raise tuition, and raise local taxes to balance the books in fiscal year 2009.

A more measured response came on July 25 from Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, when he informed the Senate that he would “convene a working group in the next few weeks that includes Senators Ogden, Shapiro, Duncan, Zaffirini, Hinojosa and other interested Members, along with the Governor’s office, the community colleges, Members of the House of Representatives and the appropriate state agencies, so we can work together toward a solution by the end of this year.”

House Speaker Tom Craddick has announced that he’s receptive, and Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo – who penned one of the angry editorials – isn’t waiting on Dewhurst. She announced last week that she will convene a hearing of the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee to hear invited and public testimony on the issue. The subcommittee will meet at 10am on Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the Senate Finance Committee Room, room E1.036 of the Capitol Extension.

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Legislature, community colleges, Rick Perry, David Dewhurst, Tom Craddick, Judith Zaffirini

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