(AUSTIN) – The 40,000 members and activists of People For the American Way in Texas are urging members of the state House of Representatives to vote against bills that would eliminate equity in public education and starve already under-funded schools. The House is scheduled to consider a package of tax bills on the floor today.
“Public education is the cornerstone of a democratic society,” said Deece Eckstein, Director of the Texas and Southwest Region of People For the American Way. “Our public schools have an enormous challenge – to create an environment in which all students can learn and succeed, taking their place as citizens and productive members of society. But the so-called leadership insists on starving neighborhood schools while extending more tax breaks to the wealthiest.”
People For the American Way activists around the state are calling and emailing their legislators, asking them to vote against House Bill 1 and House Bill 2. House Bill 1 eliminates recapture for any amounts raised above a proposed statewide $1.33 cap, increasing the funding gap between wealthy and poor school districts and creating a two-tier public education system in Texas. House Bill 2 dedicates the money from increases in franchise taxes, motor vehicle sales and use taxes, and taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products exclusively to property tax reduction, tying the Legislature’s hands and setting schools further back in their efforts to meet the growing needs of their students and communities.
“Using new revenues only for property tax reductions ignores the problem we have,” said Eckstein. “The reason property taxes are so high is that the State’s had our schools on a starvation diet for a decade now, forcing local districts to tax to the max.”
Eckstein also predicted that eliminating recapture would put the state back in court again, facing constitutional challenges to the inefficiency of the school funding system.