AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Texas lawmakers reached a deal Friday on a two-year spending plan that would restore $3.93 billion to public schools and clear the way for taking $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund for water projects, according to a state official close the negotiations.
Republicans needed Democratic votes to set up the State Water Infrastructure Fund, but the minority party wanted to boost spending on public education by $4 billion. The Republican-controlled Legislature cut $5.4 billion from schools in 2011. Last year advocates for social services were calling on state lawmakers to reverse 2011 budget cuts since the state was showing signs of an early recovery from the recession.
In the deal, the state would add $3.4 billion to public education spending and put $530 million toward schools’ contribution to the Teacher Retirement System. All of the money would be in the Foundation School Program, and therefore exempt from a line item veto by Governor Rick Perry, according to the official. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official did not want to speak publicly until lawmakers have been briefed on the deal.
The deal is similar to one announced by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst late Thursday night. Conservative Republicans have complained the deal spends too much on schools, while Democrats wanted more.
Both chambers must still vote on the measure.
This is the biggest giveback to schools on the bargaining table at any point during this 140-day session, where time and money are running out. Lawmakers only have one full week remaining at the Capitol to make this deal and numbers work.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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