Though the chances of Perry calling the Legislature back in the next few months were as remote as Venus, it's comforting in a way to see the idea firmly put to rest.
For an array of reasons, a special session on school finance would have been just another way to say amp"train wreck.amp" While the calls -- however futile -- for a special session might be sincere, this is an instance where the cure would be worse than the disease.
Teacher groups and Democrats have been calling for a special session before the next school year because of the effects of the school finance bill approved in 2011. The state's Republican leadership can spin whether the school finance bill is technically or actually a reduction in the state's commitment to public education, but the fact is that local school boards are taking drastic steps to stretch resources because legislators did not fund enrollment growth.
That resulted in staff reductions and program cuts in schools across the state. In nearby Hutto, for instance, the school board is considering charging students who ride school buses or who are involved in extracurricular activities $100 each.
The district, which employed 645 people in 2011, reduced its workforce by 69. After Hutto voters turned down a tax increase, the school board is also considering more staff cuts that will prompt increases in class size and teachers might be called upon to help with janitorial chores.
The state has just more than $1 billion in unanticipated revenue, and then there is the rainy day fund that the Legislature refused to tap last year and that some Democrats are saying could be used to stanch the flow of blood -- thus the calls for a special session.
Perry made it clear in an interview wih the American-Statesman's Jason Embry published on Wednesday that there would be no special session.
It was a message repeated to several other news outlets, so let's just consider the idea dead.
No need for condolences. It needed to die.
Assuming for a moment that Perry called the Legislature back, a special session in the proximity of party primaries invites mischief and demagoguery.
Legislators who have announced retirements would be making decisions for which they could not be held accountable. Republican incumbents would not be in a mood to do anything that might resemble increased spending, particularly if they were facing tea party challengers in their primaries.
Republicans who might nonetheless be tempted to loosen the purse strings would be haunted by Perry's comments in the interview published in Wednesday's editions: amp"We're still spending approximately $10,000 per student in Texas, and I will suggest to you the issue is not 'are we spending enough money?' The issue is, 'are we spending enough money in the right places; are we getting a good return on our investment?'?amp"
Timing a special session after the primaries and runoffs gives important votes to members who may have been ousted by the voters.
It's frustrating to watch school districts writhing in financial agony, but it would be equally frustrating to bring legislators back to Austin to do little if anything about it. This is a situation where the old advice about sleeping dogs is best heeded.
None other than Ben Franklin expressed that thought another way: amp"If a man could have half his wishes, he would double his troubles.amp"