Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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January 9, 2013

Governor says funding previous cuts up in air


Corsicana — More than 600 school districts responsible for educating three-quarters of the state's 5 million-plus public school students are suing the state, claiming that the cuts make the formula used to fund education so inadequate and inequitable that it violates state constitutional guarantees.

The GOP holds majorities in both the state House and Senate, but Democrats are clamoring that additional state revenue could give Texas a chance to undo some of the 2011 cuts to schools. Perry countered, however, that state funding for schools over the past 10 years increased at a rate three times that of enrollment growth.

"I think under any scenario the last decade, the funding that we have seen in the state of Texas for public education has been pretty phenomenal," he said.

Perry also said: "I don't imagine that we're ever going to quit having arguments about 'Are we spending enough money?' or 'Are we spending it in the right places?,' but I would suggest to you that, in the last decade, Texas has done a very good job of funding public school education."

The governor had breakfast Wednesday with Dewhurst and Straus and the trio agreed that the improved economic outlook means it's time to push for tax cuts.

But addressing reporters after Perry's comments, Dewhurst broke ranks somewhat, saying: "At the end of the day, we're going to be putting more resources into public education."

He said the lawsuits, which are being heard in state district court but will likely be appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, will eventually give lawmakers a figure the state will have to spend per-pupil to adequately fund schools.

Straus, meanwhile, has already promised to increase funding to schools enough to cover enrollment growth — requiring at least an extra $2 billion.

Dewhurst also wants to take $1 billion from the state's cash reserves, known as the Rainy Day Fund, to pay for projects to improve water infrastructure in a state frequently plagued by drought — a plan Perry said Wednesday he supports. The lieutenant governor also spoke about improving highways and education, ideas Straus seconded.

"We have some unfinished business from last session to take care of," Straus said. "In a growing state, we have to take care of some priorities."


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