FINANCE COMMITTEE ADDRESSES EDUCATION SHORTFALL
|Education Committee Chair Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano sponsored a bill approved by the Finance Committee Wednesday that would change the way the state pays for public education.|
(AUSTIN) — The Senate Finance Committee approved a bill Wednesday intended to stave off a future deficit in education spending. According to Committee Chairman Steve Ogden of Bryan, if the state merely appropriated the money needed to run public education for the next biennium, lawmakers would find themselves looking at an $8 billion shortfall in education alone when they return to Austin in 2013. The bill passed Wednesday would move public schools into a formula system of funding away from the current target revenue model, which Ogden believes will reduce the education shortfall for the next biennium to zero.
The bill approved Wednesday, SB 22 by Plano Senator Florence Shapiro, would slowly reduce the target revenue that school districts are paid over the next few years. These districts would move to a formula funding system, which Shapiro said would be student-centered. Shapiro said that while every district will see a reduction in funding, no district should lose more than eight or nine percent. "No single district takes such a drastic cut that their operations would be irreparably harmed," she said.
When the Legislature passed the franchise tax in 2005 to make up for a one-third cut in local school property taxes, the state promised to hold districts harmless by locking in funding at the 2005-2006 school year levels. If the state franchise tax underperformed, the state promised to make up the difference to school districts. The franchise tax did underperform, meaning the state has had to lay out billions to school districts to cover costs.
The Senate Finance Committee will meet Thursday to consider the final version of the budget that will be presented to the Senate as a whole sometime next week. The Senate will reconvene Thursday, April 21 at 8 a.m. to consider the Local and Uncontested Calendar, and will meet in general session again at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26.