With the never-ending school finance crisis entering its umpteenth round, Governor Ann Richards and Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock appear to be on a collision course. Richards has decided that the educational problems of public schools should be considered along with their funding problems. Bullock has decided just the opposite. The result is a Capitol stalemate that threatens to delay indefinitely a special session to solve the mess.
More than a difference of opinion but still less than a feud, the rift between Richards and Bullock has been growing steadily wider since she failed to embrace his call for a state income tax last spring. Bullock grouses that Richards has avoided taking a position on tough issues like school finance, spending, and taxes, leaving the dirty work to him. Now that she’s taken a position on educational quality, he’s mad about that too.
One reason for Bullock’s anger is practical politics. It’s going to be hard enough to pass any school finance plan in a Legislature divided over how much it should cost and where the money should come from. Quality issues will only make matters worse. Richards has explored the idea of making state aid for school districts partly dependent on how their students perform in the classroom—an idea that is anathema to many education groups. School districts, ad ministrators, and teachers want their funding guaranteed. But Richards knows her political future may well depend upon getting a school finance plan that has more public support than the current “Robin Hood” plan does. She wants to be able to say that the money will make schools better, not just costlier. Richards and Bullock look at politics from two different perspectives—outside the Capitol in her case, inside the Capitol in his—and until one of them changes, their split is likely to grow even wider.
The biggest Texas winner on Super Tuesday was the business lobby—a loose coalition of interest groups advocating tort reform at the expense of personal injury lawyers. The success of business-backed candidates in key legislative and judicial races across the state signaled