Texas lawmakers get a failing grade on school funding

Print
Email
|

by BRAD WATSON

WFAA

Posted on May 31, 2011 at 7:21 PM

The midnight deadline came and went on Monday, with Texas lawmakers making a failing grade on school funding and unable to pass a bill on education spending.

Now that Gov. Rick Perry has called a special session, nothing is off the table.

That means job and pay benefits thought saved last week could be on the line again.

And programs that teachers and parents fought hard to keep in North Texas schools could be at risk once more.

State lawmakers must go back to work on a way to spread out $4 billion in public school funding cuts over the next two years.

“There is not a great deal of excitement about being back here," Perry said.  A lot of this work could have been finalized on Monday.”

Under the last funding bill, Dallas schools were cut $161 million over two years; Fort Worth schools lost $40 million.

But that bill died when Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) filibustered past the deadline. She criticized Perry and the Republicans Tuesday for trying to balance the state budget by cutting education and for failing to spend some of the billions in the Rainy Day Fund.

“This is intended to be a permanent cut to public ed," she said. "There will have to be a response at the local level, and that response will be higher property taxes.”

Teachers successfully killed a bill that let districts furlough teachers and end minimum salary requirements. Perry could now reintroduce that measure in the special session.

Dallas' largest teachers group, Alliance/AFT, will organize opposition again, according to President Rena Honea. “We could still make a push and go to Austin again, because not only are many of the people educators, they are parents as well,” she said.

Democrats say the hoped-for renewed pressure from voters will force Republicans to shake loose more money for education.

But Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst offered this warning on Tuesday: "We are not going to re-negotiate the budget."

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|