Call it a small step for public education…with a long way still to go.
About $2 billion of the $3.2 billion that Gov. Perry and House leaders agreed to spend from the Rainy Day Fund is expected to go to public schools through the school finance formulas, according to Quorum Report.
Keeping in mind that the original House budget plan was $9.8 billion short of fully funding school finance formulas and keeping up with enrollment growth, it doesn’t take much math to figure out that the Legislature and the governor still have a long way to go toward fulfilling their constitutional duty to maintain a healthy public school system.
Rep. Scott Hochberg, the Legislature’s resident school finance expert, told his colleagues on the appropriations panel that the $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund would restore about $200 in funding per student. Since the initial proposed cut was $1,000 per student, the shortage is still $800 per kid, which still means thousands of lost school district jobs, many overcrowded classrooms and who knows how many additional dropouts.
“It’s a small increase, but it takes a lot of dollars to move that needle,” Hochberg said.
It also takes a lot more political will from the governor and the legislative leadership to do the right thing. They can start by spending the remaining $6.2 billion in the Rainy Day Fund and looking for new revenue sources.