State Comptroller Glenn Hegar has given the Legislature 2.8 billion new reasons for spending more state money – without raising taxes – on public schools and other programs that are important to the vast majority of Texans. But that doesn’t mean that the people who will control next year’s legislative session will do that.
Because of economic growth and rising oil prices, the comptroller has raised his revenue estimate by $2.8 billion for the current budget period. If the revised estimate holds true, it will mean a bigger pot of money for the Legislature to spend on education, health care, transportion, Hurricane Harvey relief and other public services when the new state budget is written next year.
Hegar also predicted an $11.85 billion balance in the Rainy Day Fund, the state’s savings account, when the current budget period ends.
There will be a lot of competition for the extra money when legislators start drafting the new budget. And there is no guarantee that leaders such as Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Patrick, if they are still in office, will be any more willing to boost state education funding than they have been in previous sessions.
Remember, the state’s share of public school funding has steadily declined under their watch and is projected to soon drop below 40 percent, while the lion’s share for local taxpayers grows bigger. Abbott, Patrick and their allies have even refused to dip into the Rainy Day Fund despite growing financial emergencies in many school districts.
So, the $2.8 billion bump in the revenue estimate is an important figure. But an even more important figure will be the number of education friendly candidates who are elected to the Legislature in November. The more legislators who are truly dedicated to public schools, the greater the chance of those schools sharing in some of that $2.8 billion.
TSTA-PAC already has endorsed a number of education friendly candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, and likely will endorse more this summer.
So stay tuned, check our endorsement list and when election time rolls around this fall, Vote Education First!