When Judge John Dietz ruled that the 2011 Republican Legislature’s $5.4 billion cuts to public education were unconstitutional in August, it was a victory for Texas students and teachers alike. The ruling confirmed that the Republicans’ cuts created an unequal system that didn’t adequately provide for Texas students–and that violates the Texas Constitution.
The ruling was also a blow to Greg Abbott, who, as attorney general, was the one responsible for defending the cuts. But, determined not to take no for an answer, Greg Abbott is officially going to appeal the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court, trying once again to take funding away from Texas students. Abbott’s office sent a notice to the Texas Supreme Court late last month confirming the appeal.
Abbott has claimed that he’s just doing his job, and that state law prevents him from dropping the appeal. That claim is actually a straight-up lie–Abbott does have the ability to go for a settlement, though the settlement would ultimately be contingent upon legislative approval. The bottom line, however, is that Greg Abbott doesn’t have to continue to fight against public schools in court–he just wants to.
What’s more, the appeal means that Texas taxpayers are going to continue to foot the bill for Greg Abbott’s fight against Texas students. Abbott’s office has declined to calculate how much the state has spent on the trial so far. If the state loses the appeal, they’ll also have to cover the legal fees for the school districts that are suing–an $8.5 million+ bill.
The cuts that Abbott is defending are the same cuts that Wendy Davis filibustered in 2011, and ones that she would have vetoed as governor. She released the following statement criticizing Abbott’s decision to act against students’ best interests:
“Greg Abbott is voluntarily using his office to continue fighting a courtroom lawsuit against more than 600 Texas school districts in an effort to keep them underfunded, their classrooms overcrowded and their teachers laid off. By refusing to drop this appeal, Greg Abbott is actively working to shortchange our kids, their education and the future of this state.”
Texas Democratic Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa echoed Wendy Davis’ criticism, and called on Abbott to stop the appeal:
“Greg Abbott continues to waste the state’s time and resources in a lawsuit against Texas’ students and neighborhood schools. Our students and teachers deserve better. It’s time for Abbott to drop the charade and accept the ruling.”
Yet again, Greg Abbott is putting Texans’ best interests dead last–and we deserve better.