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State’s New Budget Gives Slight Increase For Public Education

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jack Fink
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AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM) – Republican legislative leaders in Texas are calling for modest increases in spending for public schools and the overall budget for 2014-15.

The Texas Senate and House call for spending $89 billion for the next two years, and leaving about $5 billion unspent.

The measure does not include tax increases or tax cuts, though Governor Rick Perry, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, and House Speaker Joe Straus all say finding tax cuts are a priority.

When it comes to educating our children, the proposed Texas budget is a little brighter now than two years ago.

So far, state leaders plan to spend nearly $400 million more for 2014 and 2015 than the current budget.

That’s about a 1% increase.

The added money will cover the growing number of students in schools statewide, something that didn’t happen two years ago.

Lakashia Wallace has four children, and volunteers for the Texas Organization Project in Dallas, which fights for more money for education.

Wallace says, “I’m pleased at this particular point, that they did recognize there was some additional funding needed due to the fact that there were such severe cuts in the past.”

While the newly proposed budget is paying for all of the thousands of new students who moved to Texas, it does not call for restoring the $5.4 billion in cuts made to public schools two years ago.”

Rena Honea is the President of the Alliance American Federation of Teachers in Dallas.

She says the state should dip into its rainy-day fund to make up for the cuts, which eliminated thousands of teachers statewide, and increased class sizes.

Honea says, “If we’re going to see our state grow in the field of education, growing our students to be future leaders, we have to make that investment.”

But Lt. Governor David Dewhurst tells me Republican leaders want to see what happens during a trial where educators are fighting the state in court over the deep funding cuts.

Mr. Dewhurst says, “We’re going to to have to set aside some money, and cover whatever decision comes.”

The $5 billion that’s unspent for now could go towards public school funding.

The court ruling won’t happen until after the state legislative session ends in late May.

So look for the debate to continue for months.

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