2:00 p.m.

Rep. Jim Pitts laid out the proposed state budget today, and responded to questions from members during an extended 2-hour discussion after the House adjourned for the day. Pitts was the House Appropriations Committee Chair last session and is expected to serve in that position again; he is the author of the budget bill (which has not yet been officially filed). The budget draft was designed to fit within current revenue limitations, and does not anticipate either increased tax income or the use of the more than $9 billion Rainy Day Fund.  

Implications for Texas school districts, teachers and students are enormous:

  • Cuts general education funding - i.e., the overall funding that is sent to districts - by $9.8 billion from what would be needed to fund enrollment growth; a 23% decrease.
  • Eliminates pre-K early start grants.
  • Eliminates DATE funding (teacher incentive pay).
  • Eliminates Student Success Initiative funding (which includes funding for accelerated instruction).
  • Eliminates the technology allotment.
  • Reduces the state's contribution to TRS from the current 6.644% to the constitutional minimum of 6.0%.

Some school finance experts have estimated that the budget cuts proposed would result in the loss of up to 100,000 public school jobs statewide.   Lawmakers have argued over whether the Rainy Day Fund should be tapped to increase available revenue; House Democrats noted in a press conference today that the legislature has dipped into the RDF in previous sessions. However, Pitts said that without being sure of the 100 votes needed to use RDF funds, it was appropriate to develop the budget at this stage without assuming its use.