ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson on initial budget proposals
Date Posted: 1/16/2013 | Author: Jennifer Mitchell, CAE
Both the Texas House and Senate have filed their respective base budget bills for the session. Both proposals are very conservative and do little to restore the massive cuts in education funding enacted last session despite the nearly $9 billion budget surplus announced by the comptroller last week. The bills are meant to be a starting point for negotiations, but shed some light on the legislature’s priorities. Here is what ATPE Lobbyist Josh Sanderson had to say about the initial budget proposals: "We have fewer teachers today in classrooms than we did in 2009, and at the same time we have over 230,000 more kids in the education system than we did then. Also, and every parent knows this, we have an accountability system and a testing system that's more rigorous than it ever has been in the history of the state. So we're literally telling parents, students, teachers, our schools to achieve more than they ever have with fewer teachers and more crowded classrooms." Both proposals call for funding growth in student population, something the state failed to do for the first time in history last session, and to reverse the deferral of school district payments adopted last session as a means of freeing up more funding by delaying scheduled payment until the next biennium. However, Sanderson is skeptical: "I think it can be disputed as to whether or not they're actually funding enrollment growth because even though it's early in the process, the money that's in the budget now to fund the new students added to public education, which is about 83,000 a year, is based on the numbers per student that were cut $500 per student last biennium," said Sanderson. "So it's funding enrollment growth at a lesser rate than we traditionally fund it." The budget process is always one of the bigger and more contentious stories of each session. We will be following it closely as it unfolds. Josh Sanderson’s comments can be found in this KVUE Austin News feature.
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