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Senator Wendy Davis Files Bills to Restore Funding to Public Ed

by: Katherine Haenschen

Mon Mar 04, 2013 at 03:43 PM CST

Today, Wendy Davis made clear that she's still fighting for education in Texas by filing two bills today to restore $6.5 billion in funds cut from our public schools.

SB 1047 increases per-student state funding from $4,765 to $5,500. SB 1048 repeals the formula passed last session to artificially decrease the funding for schools. Both bills are critical to undoing the harm Republicans perpetrated on the schoolchildren of Texas, by restoring the cuts that we all know weren't necessary in 2011. The cuts to education were so draconian that the school finance system has been ruled unconstitutional.

It just goes to show, you can't keep a great senator down -- not when the future of Texas is depending on her.

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst may have removed stalwart education champion Senator Wendy Davis from the Senate education committee, but that hasn't stopped her from continuing her all-out push to restore funding to public education.

Davis filibustered the end of the 2011 session in an attempt to block the legislation Republicans used to cut $5.4 billion dollars from our Texas public schools.

The full release from Davis's office is below the jump.

And by the way, Republicans? In case you're curious, this is what real leadership on the most critical issues facing our state looks like.

Senator Wendy Davis Files Bills to Restore Funding to Public Ed

AUSTIN --  Sen. Wendy Davis today filed two bills to restore last session's cuts in funding to public education.  Senate Bill 1048 would repeal an automatic downward adjustment that shortchanged public schools.  And, Senate Bill 1047 would increase the per student funding the state provides schools from $4,765 to $5,500.

SB 1048 would repeal the Regular Program Adjustment Factor (RPAF) passed by the legislative leadership last session, which was created in order to artificially decrease formula funding.

"The revenue re-estimate indicates a colossal budgeting error that occasioned the basis for the cuts.  As a consequence, local taxpayers have been forced to endure $5.4 billion in cuts to public education that did not need to occur," said Davis.

"The leadership in the Legislature needs to admit that it was misled by a faulty estimate last session and correct a serious wrong.  If not, our children's future and Texas's economy will suffer for it.  SB 1048 would eliminate an unnecessary cut over the next two years and return $1.05 billion back to schools and taxpayers where it belongs."

In 2011, the Legislature established the RPAF to reduce the obligation the State of Texas has to public schools. Legislative leaders decided they only wanted to meet 92 percent of their obligation for 2012 and 98 percent of their obligation for 2013, costing schools and local taxpayers $2.5 billion over two years, according to the Legislative Budget Board.

If the 98 percent adjustment is allowed to continue for 2014-2015, the reduction would cost schools an additional $1.05 billion over two years.  Worse, the lowered floor would continue to penalize schools unnecessarily for years to come by providing an artificially low starting point for budget writers each legislative session.  The reductions were never needed.  In January, Comptroller Susan Combs reported that her revenue estimate for the 2011 session should have included $8.8 billion in additional revenues.

Sen. Davis's SB1047 would increase the state's per student funding for the first time since 2009.  The increase to $5,500 per student, falls short of Judge Dietz's yardstick of $6,500 per student for "adequate" funding under the state constitution, but makes an important first step toward that goal.  The increase from $4,765 to $5,500 would cost $5.5 billion over two years.

"SB 1047 represents a down payment to meet the constitutional requirement for school funding under the court decision," said Davis.  "This funding would show that the state is a partner with our public schools in preparing our students for achievement in higher education and the workplace."

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