Texas budget deal struck, but will Perry approve?
By CHRIS TOMLINSON
The Associated Press
AUSTIN, Texas —
A deal on a Texas budget is finally done. Now the Legislature must withstand one final and furious week without sinking a compromise that restores nearly $4 billion to public schools and puts more water in the pipeline amid a historic drought.
Gov. Rick Perry must also like this bargain, or lawmakers will dig in for a long summer.
House and Senate negotiators settled Friday on a roughly $100 billion state budget. It would reverse most of the historic spending cuts that socked Texas classrooms in 2011, give state employees a modest raise and still afford Republicans the political cover of not busting a cap on state spending.
"We've written a good budget for the people of Texas," said Republican state Sen. Tommy Williams, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. "It's a conservative budget that reflects our values."
The 374 Revenue-Contributing School Districts in Texas – through their local taxpayers – play a vital role in improving the quality of education for all schoolchildren in the state.
Designated as Chapter 41 districts in the Texas Education Code, these Revenue-Contributing School have added more than $15 billion to the state public education budget since 1993, with many districts giving up more than 50 percent of their locally raised tax money.
In the 2012-13 school year, state lawmakers and the Texas Education Agency are counting on local taxpayers in the relatively small number of Revenue-Contributing Schools to put another $1,122,372,500 into the school finance system.
How Much is Enough? Read more
The Gilmer-Aikin Act, adopted by the Texas Legislature in 1949, established a public school finance system that, for the first time, included funding from local tax bases. This revenue was to be used for local enrichment. More than 60 years ago, local control was recognized as the key for local districts to flourish. The same remains true today.
The current school finance system, however, is making it extremely difficult for local communities to devote any extra resources to the educational needs of Texas schoolchildren. Read more
Under the statewide school finance system, Revenue-Contributing Schools have paid more than $15 billion in locally raised taxes to the state since 1993. This money is driven into the education system exclusively by local taxpayers exercising local control. By May 2013, this number will reach 16 billion.
When taxpayers in Revenue-Contributing School Districts decide to spend more on their local schools, it drives significant new money to the state. Local discretion is essential to keeping the state funding system healthy. Without local control, the incentive to continue sending money to the state disappears.