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Texas Senate
March 7, 2002
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Proposed School Finance Plans and Property Appraisals Examined by Committee

The Joint Select Committee on Public School Finance continued it examination of the Texas school funding system today, March 7, 2002. Today's meeting focused new ways to raise revenue for schools, including property tax plans and property appraisal practices.

Ursula Parks from the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) led off the day's testimony, speaking on how the proposed school funding plans would affect the state budget. The LBB presented what Co-Chairman Teel Bivins called some "very conservative" estimates on how much property values will increase in coming years. Other concerns expressed by committee members included ensuring that the gap between wealthy and poor school districts does not increase under what ever funding plan is adopted. Other questions centered on how specific programs would be funded.

Committee Co-chairs are Senator Teel Bivins and Representative Paul Sadler. Members include Senators Steve Ogden, Florence Shapiro, Eliot Shapleigh, Leticia Van de Putte and Royce West. Also on the committee are Representatives Harold Dutton, Kent Grusendorf, Scott Hochberg, Rene Oliveria and Todd Smith. Public members include Kent Caperton, Will Davis, Craig Foster, Lyndon Olson, Mark Stiles and David Thompson.

Also testifying today were representatives from the Comptroller's Office on Property Appraisal Practices in Texas.

In April, the committee will begin considering revenue sources for school funding. The committee recessed subject to call of the chair, with its next meeting to be in Austin during April.

Spaceport Funding Considered

Could spaceships rise alongside cattle and oil wells on the Texas prairie? A local group is working with the Texas Legislature to develop a launching facility between Corpus Christi and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Today, Thursday, March 7, 2002, a committee studying the funding of such a proposal met in Austin.

The Finance Subcommittee on the SpacePort Trust Fund is to monitor the implementation of SB 813, the implementation of the SpacePort Trust Fund, to see how money is to be spent on the project and to monitor the progress of the entire project in Texas.

Bill Looke, the Executive Director of the Texas Aerospace Commission briefed the subcommittee on why the 77th Legislature passed the legislation creating the trust fund, how project backers are working with NASA, and how the project is progressing. He told the subcommittee that they are involving high school students in the project, using a program in Fredericksburg as a model for other schools.

The committee recessed subject to call of the chair.

Session video and all other Senate webcast recordings can be accessed from the Senate website's Audio/Video Archive.