1:30 p.m.

 

The education community was rocked this week when the budget proposed by House leaders included more than $10 billion in cuts to public school funding. And while we can't find a way to make the situation appear rosy, it's important to note that what was released this week should be a worst-case scenario.  

 

There are measures that can be taken to help mitigate the budget shortfall - while new taxes seem to be off the table, lawmakers could remove some existing exemptions to bring in new revenue. Accounting "tricks" are often used to move costs into a subsequent fiscal year. And more than $9 billion is sitting in the state's Rainy Day Fund, though it will take 2/3 majority votes in the House and Senate to get approval to dip into it.  

 

This budget was essentially the firing of the first salvo, an initial move to gauge reactions and determine levels of support and opposition to certain proposals. Certainly there has been a fair amount of public reaction to the education cuts in particular. Bill author Jim Pitts noted that the proposal is not a "done deal" and expects many aspects of the proposal to change during the months-long legislative process.  

 

Educators should not panic, but we do need to resolve to fight hard for the programs and expenditures that help provide a quality education to Texas students. This will be an extremely difficult session, but school employees have the numbers and the commitment to make a difference.