Press release from the Texas State Teachers Association
Senate approves budget cutting $4 billion from public education
On a straight party vote, the state Senate on Wednesday approved a budget cutting $4 billion from the public schools and putting the Legislature on track to enact the worst budget for public education in at least 27 years. The budget plan fails to fully fund school finance formulas or keep up with anticipated enrollment growth, even though Texas school enrollment is expected to grow by 170,000 over the next two years.
The budget is now headed for a 10-member House-Senate conference committee, which will try to write a compromise budget before the legislative session adjourns on May 30. The House budget is even worse. It would slash $8 billion from public education.
TSTA President Rita Haecker, in a statement issued to the media, urged parents, educators and other Texans to flood the governor’s and legislative offices with calls and emails, demanding that the budget conferees, who will be named within the next few days, “throw both bills into the trash and start over.”
TSTA will alert our members when the budget conferees are named, and we urge you to contact them to demand that they find more revenue for public education and other state needs. Otherwise, the final budget compromise will result in thousands of additional educator jobs being lost and hundreds of more classrooms becoming overcrowded.
Using the two-thirds rule, the 12 Senate Democrats had blocked a vote on the budget bill, a committee substitute for House Bill 1, on Tuesday. But the Republican Senate leadership bypassed the two-thirds vote requirement for debating legislation on Wednesday with a rarely used procedure.
The leadership allowed House Bill 1 to be debated on a simple majority vote because Wednesdays are reserved for House bills and House Bill 1 was at the top of the Senate’s House bill calendar.
The vote on final passage was 19-12. All the Republican senators voted for the bill. All the Democratic senators voted against it.
“Thanks to a state leadership that cares more about politics than school children, the Legislature is poised to abdicate its constitutional responsibility to pay for an adequate system of public schools,” Haecker said in her statement. “It is time for parents and other Texans to get angry with a governor and lawmakers who put ideology ahead of our state’s future.”
She added: “It is unconscionable to leave $6 billion sitting in the emergency Rainy Day Fund, while thousands of educators lose their jobs and thousands of school kids are crammed into overcrowded classrooms.”
TSTA thanked the 12 Democratic senators for opposing the budget bill.
TSTA is urging the governor and the Legislature to minimize budget cuts by spending all $9.4 billion in the Rainy Day Fund, closing some tax exemptions and finding new tax revenue.