One of the possible solutions for solving issues with school finance is consolidating school districts; HB 2542 would study possible Bexar County school district consolidation. Even though Gov. Perry is not swaying on Medicaid expansion, there is still hope that Texas will do something to get people care and the federal money that goes with it.
Studying school district consolidation in Bexar County
There are 16 independent school districts in Bexar County – not counting the military school districts - so what if there was only one? Bexar County ISD.
State Representative Roland Gutierrez is exploring this topic. He represents district 119, which crosses the borders of 9 school districts.
Gutierrez filed House Bill 2542 to study school consolidation in Bexar County.
"Without us having any hard, real numbers, we can't do anything about it (consolidation). So all I've asked is for TEA to evaluate a couple of different scenarios: One going from our current state of affairs of 16 school districts to one school district, [or] scenario number two [going from] 16 down to five."
The benefit from consolidation, suggests Gutierrez, is in combining the services of 16 different entities into only one.
"As we face a tremendous problem across the state on school finance, you have to understand, and I think it's only logic to understand, that there's tremendous inefficiency in what we are doing in our school districts locally in Bexar County. You've got 16 different police departments, 16 different library resource procurement entities, you've got 16 cafeteria, 16 bussing and maintenance facilities, and the list goes on. Not to mention 16 different school administrators, superintendents and all their executive staff."
It is important to remember that HB 2542 only implements the study of Bexar County school district consolidation and does not ensure that consolidation will in fact happen.
"This is the very beginning step, this is simply a study, and if this were to ever happen it would require communities to go out and vote this up or down in their respective communities."
Pros and cons of Medicaid expansion
Proponents of Medicaid Expansion in Texas aren’t quite ready to throw in the towel, even though Gov. Rick Perry said he’s not going to back down, but some Republican lawmakers continue to try to find a way to bring the estimated $90 billion in federal funds to the state.
Medicaid expansion would bring medical care to about 2 million Texans who currently have no health insurance. Economists say that for every dollar the state spends on Medicaid expansion it would get a dollar sixty back in taxes.
Opponents to Obamacare, however, are not swayed. They see it as a violation of their conservative principals.
Kyle Cheney, a medical reporter for Politico.com, says there is still a reason for Medicaid expansion supporters to hope.
"They (the legislature and governor) don't want to just put people on the Medicaid program, they all agree that the Medicaid program has problems. So what the legislature is doing is looking at other states like Florida, like Arkansas, where Republicans have pushed back against their governor and said, 'Well, we want those Medicaid dollars too, but let's try to use them in a different way. Let's try to get those people private insurance with those dollars instead of just putting them on Medicaid.' "
One of the big winners in the Medicaid expansion would be hospitals, who often provide care for people who have no insurance and have to eat the costs.
"Doctors in Texas are not as definitive. Part of the problem there is Medicaid rates - what they pay doctors who provide Medicaid care - are not as high as private insurance coverage, so a lot of doctors won't even take Medicaid patients. There's a fear out there that you might throw a lot of people into Medicaid and then they won't really have the options for care as people envisioned."