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Second session possible
House panel to meet on school finance bill

Daily Light News Editor
State Rep. Jim Pitts said this morning that he’s planning to participate on a six-person bipartisan committee to draft a new House plan for school funding.

The panel, comprising three Democrats and three Republicans, will begin work after the Mother’s Day weekend in anticipation of a second special session to replace the “Robin Hood” school finance system.

“My theory is that we need to be ready to go at the start of the second session,” Pitts said. “We’ve got to get started now.”

The Senate was scheduled to convene today and begin discussions on whether it would wait to pitch a plan until the House reaches a consensus on a new proposal or whether senators would move forward with their own plan, state Sen. Kip Averitt said this morning.

“There are many senators out there who are doubtful that the House can reach an agreement on a constitutional amendment, which would be required if this is going to work,” Averitt said. “But there are several senators who are anxious to get going on addressing the problem. The Senate is going to meet today to discuss that very issue.”

It’s typically harder for the larger House to come to agreement, which is why there are some sentiments that the Senate should wait.

“In the House, we’ve got 150 members representing diverse areas, and we aren’t afraid to get on the floor and speak our mind,” Pitts said of the sometimes contentious environment.

He added that he believes there is a way to come up with significantly more revenue for schools while addressing the primary concerns of Democrats and Republicans. Democrats generally want to keep the sales tax as low as possible, while Republicans generally are looking to lower property taxes as much as possible.

“There’s ways to make both sides happy and come up with a great plan for our schoolchildren,” Pitts said.

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