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Texas Education Funding Returning To Spotlight

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Debate over public funding for public schools will escalate this month. School districts are now tackling their budgets for next year. Their spending plans will likely face the ax again. Already, there have been calls for the state to restore some education cuts.

But the Republican-controlled Legislature said no.

The state will likely save any additional sales tax revenues that come in this year to pay for increased Medicaid costs at the end of fiscal 2013.

During Texas’ legislative session last year, much of the controversy surrounded the “Crisis in the Classroom.” Because of the slow economy, the state took in far less sales tax revenues. While the schools received more money in the 2012-13 year, it was far short of what districts needed to serve all of their new students.

Now, one year later, the Texas chapter of the American Federation of Teachers are reminding taxpayers about the severity of the funding crisis. On March 24, the AFT will be holding a ‘Save Texas Schools’ rally. Their goal is to point out that the budget crisis has led to larger class sizes, a lack of instructional materials and fewer programs to help at-risk students succeed.

State leaders are paying attention.

On February 29, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus announced that a joint interim legislative committee will study public school finances. The state Senators and House members on the committee will propose solutions to the built-in structural deficit for public school financing. That began in 2006, after Governor Rick Perry and state leaders cut property taxes, and established a business tax.

But critics said it never raised enough revenues.

Governor Perry has not issued any statements regarding this new legislative committee.

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