HB 11 by Rep. Allan Ritter (R-Nederland), scheduled to be voted on in the Texas House late in the afternoon on April 29, would draw $2 billion for water projects from the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund. Though at least $11.8 billion is available in the Rainy Day Fund, the House has yet to use any of that money to stop ongoing cuts in public education. So far the House has voted to provide $3 billion for public schools, from other revenue sources, to reverse only part of the cuts of $5.4 billion enacted two years ago.
Please send an e-letter from the Texas AFT Web site asking House members to insist that public education receive at least as much as water projects from the Rainy Day Fund–$2 billion.
Our public schools and the students they serve bore the brunt of billions of dollars in budget cuts enacted in the 2011 legislative session–$5.4 billion in elementary and secondary education. The cuts have led to the loss of more than 25,000 jobs in our public schools, including more than 10,000 teaching positions. Full-day pre-kindergarten grants were wiped out. Funding for extra help for struggling students under the Student Success Initiative was all but eliminated, even as the state imposed new testing requirements putting more students at risk of failure. Waivers allowing class sizes to swell in grades K-4 more than tripled, and class sizes in grades without any caps ballooned as well.So far, however, the House budget plan embodied in various spending bills would leave public education more than $2 billion short of the amount needed to restore funding to the pre-2011 level.
Strengthening the state’s physical infrastructure by funding water projects is important. But so is the building of our state’s human infrastructure—the knowledge and skills of the schoolchildren of Texas.
Lawmakers have it within their power to draw funding from the Rainy Day Fund for schools the same as for water needs. They need to use that power and insist that any draw of $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund for water projects be matched by an equivalent draw for public education.