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."