Last week the Texas Senate and House moved forward in the budget process. Both add funding to public education based on enrollment growth from 2011, and both restore some portion of the $5.4 Billion cut last session, but Democrats in the House and Senate contend that this is only a starting point. As the process continues, there will be other opportunities to increase the level of funding for public education.
After last session’s cuts Texas dropped to 49th in the nation in per pupil spending. The good news is that, despite reluctance by the far right to fully fund our public education system, Democrats stand with the majority of Texans. A recent bipartisan poll conducted by the Texas State Teachers Association showed 2/3 of Texans approve of using the Rainy Day Fund to restore the funds that were cut last session
In last week’s “Watson Wire”, Senator Watson called the Senate’s budget bill, SB 1, a “down payment, not a new normal.” Before sending the bill to the full Senate for approval the Senate Finance Committee added an extra $1.4 billion for public schools and $746 million for higher education to the base budget that was released in January. Watson said that even though the bill would restore a portion of the $5.4 Billion that was cut in 2011, it was not a permanent solution. This proposed increase in funding is a start but it still amounts to less than population growth plus inflation.