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Is it time to fix school finance?

It’s pretty much always time to fix school finance, since school finance is always broken, so here goes the Senate. Maybe.

State Senate leaders want to end the much-despised public education funding system by 2017, although they disagree on how to do it — and time is growing short.

Some prefer a goal to end the “target revenue” system based on what school districts received in 2006. That system has not been adjusted for inflation and has created huge funding disparities over the past five years. A goal of ending target revenue will keep pressure on lawmakers, Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said Monday.

But others argue that such a goal is meaningless until the state fixes its $5 billion-a-year structural revenue deficit.

Lawmakers don’t lack pressure, said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio. “We lack courage, courage to admit that we made a mistake and how to fix it. … We’re not going after the core problem. All we can do is make the patient feel a little better while they are totally miserable, and we’re not doing the cure.”

That’s about the size of it. There’s no plan on the table, so speculation is all we have. But anything that doesn’t address the structural deficit – and to his credit, Finance Committee Chair Sen. Steve Ogden has talked about this – is broken right out of the box. And they’re doing it from a starting point of cutting $4 billion from public ed, which is still a hell of a lot better than the House. But only if they can pay for it, and now that Sen. Ogden has admitted they need to tap the Rainy Day Fund for $3 billion to achieve the revenue restorations they’ve budgeted, it’s not clear they’ll get there. They’re right to go for the RDF, but they’ll be fighting the House and Rick Perry for it. All we can do is watch and hope.

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  1. texaschick says:

    “All we can do is watch and hope.”

    Actually, everyone needs to do more than just “watch and hope.” We all need to contact our lawmakers and voice our support of using the Rainy Day Fund. We need to contact Perry and voice our support for using the RDF.

  2. You’re right, we do need to do that. But I expect that Republican representatives care more about what they think their primary voters want them to do than anything else. That’s certainly how they’ve been acting all through this session.

  3. texaschick says:

    If these severe budget cuts are enacted, it is going to be interesting to see how their “primary voters” react when these budget cuts impact their pocketbooks or the pocketbooks of their family members. Theory vs Reality.