PFAW, Allies Call on Senate to Show Real Leadership

(AUSTIN) – The Texas and Southwest Region Office of People For the American Way joined a broad range of civic and advocacy organizations in a letter calling on the Texas Senate to address long-overdue education and school finance reforms during the special session on property taxes that began on April 17.

“Our elected leaders have been thumping their chests and bragging about what they’re doing ‘for the kids’,” said Deece Eckstein, Director of the Texas and Southwest Region of People For the American Way. “But the people of Texas are getting the picture: no new money for schools.”

Bills passed the House last week that would replace property taxes on businesses and homeowners with a new business margins tax, a revised tax on used car transactions and increases in the cigarette tax. But one of the bills would restrict all future revenues from that stream exclusively to property tax relief.

The letter, addressed to Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and 31 members of the Senate, calls on the Senate to show leadership by:
• Eliminating the provisions of HB 2, which effectively slam the door on future education funding.
• Raising annual teacher pay at least $3,000 and reversing deep cuts in the teacher health-care stipend.
• Maintaining equity in the education system by flowing any new funds for education improvement through equity-based funding formulas.
• Keeping the Legislature’s promise to invest $1.8 billion in education that is contained in the current budget. That money disappears under the provisions of HB 1.

“The State has underfunded our schools for the better part of a decade,” said Eckstein. “Property taxpayers have carried that burden, and now we’re trying to ease their pain. But we still haven’t addressed the underlying problem – overcrowded schools, underpaid teachers, antiquated textbooks, canceled arts and music programs, and crumbling facilities.”

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