Then they came for public education.
School districts are being told they should expect to get an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion less in the next two-year budget as lawmakers begin wrestling with a $24 billion revenue shortfall in January.
That could mean less money for prekindergarten classes, teacher incentive grants and tutoring for students struggling to pass the state’s standardized tests.
And the state, in a highly unusual move, could also take a chunk out of the $37 billion Foundation School Program, which provides the direct per-student state aid to school districts.
“Going into the Foundation Program at this point ought to be a glaring red flashing warning about how serious this problem is,” said state Rep. Donna Howard , D-Austin, who brought in a school finance expert on Tuesday to meet with several area school district representatives about the looming cuts.
Legislative leaders, who have vowed to close the budget shortfall without raising taxes, have not said whether they plan to cover the $2 billion school districts are projected to need for new students.
Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden , R-Bryan, said no decisions have been made about how to cut the state’s public education budget.
But one of the ideas being kicked around is to eliminate $2 billion in grant programs from outside the Foundation School Program, which includes the $400 million teacher incentive program and more than $200 million for prekindergarten.
No one is eager to raise local property taxes to make up for losing state revenue, said Mark Williams , president of the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees.
“We’re getting to the point now that we will have to impact classrooms,” Williams said.
Remember, our Republican leaders have never gotten school finance right. When student performance suffers, and the dropout rate goes up again, and the state falls farther behind the rest of the country, you’ll know who caused it. Hair Balls has more.