The Legislature's foremost expert on school finance and one of its top public education advocates, state Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, confirmed this afternoon that he won't seek re-election next year.
Hochberg, who took office in 1993 and is now the vice chairman of the House Education Committee and the chairman of the education subcommittee on the House Appropriations Committee, said the time had come for him to pursue something new.
"Being in this job and trying to do it well is a continual thing, as any member will tell you, after a certain amount of time, I think the grind just wears people down," he said, "I love working on all the problems we work on, but it's 24/7 and it makes it hard to focus on anything in specific." He brushed off any suggestion that his absence would leave an void of leadership on school finance issues.
"Nobody's indispensable," he said. "The state survived a lot of years before I was in the Legislature, and will continue to after I'm not."
His announcement comes as a new round of school finance lawsuits enters the courts. The issue will almost certainly be under discussion during the 2013 legislative session.
When asked about his future plans, Hochberg said he did not have a job offer — nor was he soliciting one, saying that he still had a year to serve out of his term.
But he did jokingly reference his reputation as a sometimes fierce presence on the House floor and in committee meetings: "I hear 60 Minutes is looking for a curmudgeon to come up and complain about things on a weekly basis, so maybe that's something I have the talent of doing."