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Texas Senate advances scaled-back school finance plan

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The Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- The Texas Senate has advanced a once-sweeping school finance plan, but only after scaling it back so much that it will only offer about $500 million in extra funding for some school districts statewide and teacher retirement.

The House passed its original, far more ambitious $1.8 billion bill during the regular and special legislative sessions.

The Senate has repeatedly rejected that plan, which the chamber's leader, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, called a "Ponzi scheme."

The Senate version pumps money to hundreds of smaller school districts facing declining property tax revenue. Texas' Supreme Court has ruled the school finance system flawed but minimally constitutional.

Lawmakers have until the special session ends Wednesday to forge a compromise.

Also Monday, the House approved a commission to study future school finance solutions.