Has Birnam Wood moved to Dunsinane Hill? Does a snowball really have a chance in hell? Are the Cubs destined to win the World Series? Something strange and supernatural is afoot: Speaker Craddick has named Scott Hochberg to a select committee to coordinate public and higher education school finance, and not just as a member, but as vice-chairman. Now, it might not seem strange to put the legislator with the most knowledge of the subject on such a committee, but Craddick has blackballed Hochberg before, most notably in 2004, when he formed a 31-member committee on school finance (more than 20% of the House) without including him. Presumably Craddick has finally figured out that it’s better to put Hochberg on the committee rather than having him fight its recommendations on the House floor. Another intriguing development was the choice of Dan Branch as chairman. This is a risky move. Branch, whose committee assignments left him treading water, is one of the House’s most talented but most underutilized members. But he also has a marked tendency to approach school finance with Highland Park blinders. It’s interesting, too, that Rob Eissler, who is chairman of Public Ed, is a member of the committee but not its chair. Could the reason be that Eissler is not a vouchers advocate but Branch is? I’m sure Craddick has an end game in mind, but it’s not easy to see what it is.
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