This was the first major education vote of the session, something that school advocates have been waiting for since January. Rick Noriega offered an amendment to sweep the $580+ million for incentive pay and make it an across-the-board pay raise. It will measure whether the numerical strength that the pro-education community crowd gained in the primary and general elections will actually translate into votes on the House floor when the Craddick leadership is working against them. This is a very dangerous vote for Republicans, the kind of vote that got people like Bill Keffer beat. It is also a very dangerous amendment for Tom Craddick. He promised in his acceptance speech for speaker to help members and to enable them to vote their districts. The vote on Kolkhorst’s motion to table was a pretty good reflection of what happens when members vote their districts: 65 to table, 83 against, and by the way Eissler is up there chubbing on the front mike, my guess is Nancy Fisher et al are trying to turn the vote around.

Kolkhorst had no choice but to move to table, but I hated to see her do it. That is not a motion to be proud of.

The delay for the vote on the Noriega amendment is so obviously a play for time that Villareal went to the microphone to ask What’s holding up our vote. Craddick’s reply was, “Gee, I wish I knew, Mr. Villareal.”

Maybe this is the time to suggest the name of a good electrician. I have a feeling that the voting machines are about to malfunction.

THE BOARD DID MALFUNCTION. Honest, I was just kidding. Poor Craddick said, out loud, on the mike, Oh no. I think he was talking about the malfunction.

The amendment passes with 96 votes. A Democrat called me from the floor to say that the Rs were working it hard. Of course, there are many perils along the way before the teachers get their money. When this bill comes out of conference, there is going to be a lot of incentive pay in it. Even so, if the conference committee report doesn’t have some kind of teacher pay raise, there will be people in the House who go nuts. My guess is that some of that money that hasn’t been appropriated will go into a pay raise.

One significant thing about this vote: Some of the Rs who were elected with the support of the education community are not voting for the people who backed them. Foremost among this group is Diane Patrick, whose defeat of the educators’ arch-enemy, Kent Grusendorf, could not have occurred without the backing of the education community. My caller from the floor told me that she voted to table the amendment and then switched her vote to be for it.

The next amendment was by Coleman, to have school districts collect data about students who are bullied. Kolkhorst showed that she is a fast learner. She decided to leave it to the will of the House but pointed out that it was an unfunded mandate. The amendment was adopted, 77-68.

I love this stuff. It’s better than the Final Four.

Now Anchia wants to wipe out the office of state-federal relations and put the money into teacher pay. He quotes from Craddick about why we don’t need it. It’s tabled.