FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 22, 2005
(AUSTIN) - The Texas Legislature reconvened on Tuesday (June 21) for the purpose of reforming the state's public school finance system and providing public schools with the necessary funds to open for the upcoming academic year. Governor Rick Perry called the special session after vetoing education funding within the state budget.
"The Legislature tried to reform the school finance system during the regular session," said Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, who served on the conference committee charged with reconciling the two versions of the finance reform bill. "While we did our best to find a compromise, we could not work out the differences between the Senate and House versions of the plan. When the education of our children is at stake, however, no bill is better than a bad bill."
Governor Perry proposed a school finance plan that claims to provide $7 billion in property tax relief and an additional $5 billion for schools. The majority of the new dollars would be created through an increase and expansion of the state sales tax and an increase in the cigarette tax by $1.
Senator Zaffirini initially proposed a $1 cigarette user fee in 2002, then again in 2003, to help reduce smoking and the associated health care costs. She prefers, however, to use the revenue for health and human services.
As vice chair of the Finance Committee and a member of the Education Committee since 1989, Senator Zaffirini will be involved in all stage of negotiations.
"I am grateful to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst for these committee appointments," Senator Zaffirini said. "I will continue to work hard during the special session to champion a school finance system that provides an excellent education for all Texas children."