Patterson Yields to Pressure on School Funds, Agrees to Vote on $150 Million Transfer
Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson told the Texas House Appropriations Committee yesterday that he will commit for the School Land Board to have a vote on moving $150 million to Texas public schools - following pressure put on by over 4,100 members of Progress Texas and intense questions from Texas lawmakers. As we wrote back in August, when we launched our campaign:
Our Land Commissioner and Texas Republican Jerry Patterson has aspirations for higher office and is playing political games with Texas children. The announced candidate for Lt. Governor, Jerry Patterson, the Chairman of the 3-person School Land Board that made the decision to keep the funds in an account his office controls, is ignoring the will of Texas voters who approved a Constitutional Amendment last November to send that $300 million to our kids' classrooms. (Source: Texas Tribune)
Patterson responded to our campaign, at the time, by infamously declaring us "slacktivists" and writing an offensive letter to Texas citizens who asked nothing more than for Patterson to uphold his word. Yesterday, before the Texas House Appropriations Committee, Patterson got called out by Texas lawmakers - Republicans and Democrats alike - for his stunt. As the Quorum Report wrote yesterday (subscription required):
Lawmakers who thought they had a promise from Patterson last session to make the transfer were clearly unhappy with him today. Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) said, “No one did this behind the closed doors. We were talking about the $300 million just like we’re talking today. And with all of your concerns that you’re mentioning today, it would have been legitimate for you to make all of those comments when we were going through the budgetary process. But not now.”
He was echoed by Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) who said his committee expected him to make this $300 million available as did the at least 100 members in the House needed to approve the joint resolution and send it the voters. “And now you’re saying this is discretionary,” Pitts said. “We didn’t use the word discretion. We used the word allow.”
Patterson has committed for the School Land Board to have a vote to transfer $150 million at the next meeting, which is January 8, 2013. Matt Glazer, our Executive Director, released the following statement yesterday in response to Patterson's announcement:
Progress Texas, and its members across the state, will continue to demand Patterson and the School Land Board listen to Texas voters and release the full $300 million to Texas public schools. Over 4,000 Texans contacted Patterson and his office to tell him to stop hoarding money from Texas students. We strongly support the request made by Republicans and Democrats of the House Appropriations Committee for Patterson to release the full $300 million for Texas schools on January 8.
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