Free Market Foundation Gets It Wrong Again

UPDATE: As Lee notes in his comment below, the House didn’t get to HB 710 on Monday. It’s on the House supplemental calendar for today (Tuesday, May 5).

Here’s another of the apparently countless reasons why one shouldn’t rely on the far-right Free Market Foundation Focus on the Family-Texas for information. Free Market says it is circulating a flier on the floor of the Texas House calling for representatives to oppose House Bill 710 when it comes up for a vote today. HB 710 by Rep. Patrick Rose, D-Dripping Springs, would make the Texas State Board of Education subject to periodic review by the Sunset Advisory Commission. We haven’t seen the flier, but we wonder if this factoid from Free Market’s blog made it on there (as it did in a Free Market alert to the group’s e-mail list earlier today):

This bill requires the State Board of Education to be subject to “Sunset Review”, which is a form of periodic review where a group of 10 elected officials and 2 unelected officials review state agencies and have the ability to abolish such agencies.

If HB 710 passes, the SBOE would be the only elected body to be subject to Sunset Review.

Two problems.

First, HB 710 explicitly states that the state board would not be subject to abolishment under the statute. So Free Market’s note about abolishing agencies is a red herring. In fact, it would take a constitutional amendment — which must be approved by Texas voters — to abolish the state board. But HB 710 would allow the state’s Sunset Advisory Commission to review what the state board does and make recommendations to lawmakers about the board’s duties in the future. (The Legislature sets in statute what the state board’s duties are — except for managing the Permanent School Fund, authority for which the Constitution currently gives the board.)

Second and more basic, the Free Market’s statement that the state board would be the only elected body subject to Sunset review is simply wrong. The Texas Railroad Commission, which is headed by three commissioners elected in statewide races, is subject to periodic Sunset review, as noted in statute (Art. 6445a, V.T.C.S.):

The Railroad Commission of Texas is subject to Chapter 325, Government Code (Texas Sunset Act). Unless continued in existence as provided by that chapter, the commission is abolished September 1, 2013.

As we said, don’t rely on Free Market for information. Perhaps they’re too busy suing school districts to get their facts right.

2 thoughts on “Free Market Foundation Gets It Wrong Again

  1. Exactly, you cannot abolish a constitutionally created governmental entity, whether the members are appointed or elected, without a constitutional amendment. Anything that reviewed, provided more transparency, and educationally relevant input to the SBOE, would be wonderful. After all, “someone has to stand up to all these (educational) experts”. This is why its important, now, well before the next election cycle for the SBOE in 2010, that we educate Texans, particularly in SBOE #5 & #10, about exactly what the SBOE is and what it does, and doesn’t do, particularly the Permanent School Fund.