Sunday, September 19, 2010

Get Ready For Cuts in Education in Texas

I don’t see any way around it. With something between a $18 and a $21 billion shortfall in the 2012-13 biennial budget, with revenues down and costs up, I just don’t see how the funds allocated to Education are going to be kept at the same level in the next two years.

This is what Lloyd Doggett wanted to prevent in including his amendment to the bill that would bring $830 million in education dollars to Texas from the feds. Perry would have to guarantee that funding for Education would be kept at the same level for the next 2 years or it could not collect its portion of the $10 billion in funds recently passed by congress.

It’s not something that he wants to do. And truthfully, unless some sort of miracle on the order of the loaves and fishes occurs, and Texans accept an increase in taxes, I don’t see how Education funding will be kept at the same level over the next two years, despite what legislators are being warned about.

Case in point. Look at this histogram. It is from a UT poll that I found here at the Texas Tribune. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that Texans support cutting services rather than raising revenue. This is a mandate for Republicans in the state legislature to do just that.

“Overall, 47 percent of those polled say spending cuts are the way to go, while 24 percent say the state should balance the budget with new money; 19 percent fall right in the middle.”
So 47% want spending cuts and 24% think increasing revenue is the way to go. And guess which area of the state government takes the biggest piece of the budgetary pie? You guessed it, Education Agencies. At 53.6%, education by far leads the pack in the area that requires the greatest amount of funding. Coming in a distant second is Health and Human Services at 22.8%.

So it’s really a no-brainer if you are a mindless conservative with a budget to cut. You go after the elephant. You go after the area that takes the greatest amount of state revenue.

You go after Education.

This despite the fact that the whole mess started by decreasing school property taxes in 2005, increasing business taxes to make up the slack.

“Some budget watchers say lawmakers created a "structural" deficit in 2005 when lawmakers cut school property taxes by one-third, and expanded the business tax to make up the difference. However, the business tax brings in billions less each year than the property tax did, meaning with every new budget, lawmakers must find more and more extra money to make up the difference. The structure of the revenue system creates deficits each year.”
So the deficit was caused by an effort to decrease revenue that would go to the schools, and the dirt that was going to be used to fill that hole disappeared.

So get ready Texas Educators. Get ready to make do with less, be required to do more, including having to cope with increased class sizes, but at the same time expectations for continued improvement and meeting Annual Yearly Progress standards will remain with us.

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