Republican state officials continue to spread the Big Lie. The latest is Comptroller Susan Combs, who told a BryanCollege Station forum yesterday that the Legislature didn’t reduce funding for public education last year but increased it by $2 billion. If she thinks her nose looks a little longer this morning, it may have more to do with fabrication than imagination.
The only way to realistically measure whether the Legislature cut or increased education funding is on a perstudent basis, and on that measure, the legislative majority slashed spending by $538 per child for this school year alone and by an additional amount for 201213. This is based on a projected increase in school enrollment of about 170,000 during this school year and 201213, the two years covered by the budget adopted by lawmakers last spring. Calculated statewide, that is a $4 billion reduction in funding obligations to school districts. Add another $1.4 billion in cuts to public school grants, and the total reductions are $5.4 billion.
Texas spent $9,446 in state and local funds for each student in average daily attendance during the 201011 school year. Following the cuts in state aid, that was reduced to $8,908 – a $538 cut per child – during the current school year, according to the National Education Association’s crunching of state data. This is why TSTA is demanding that Gov. Perry call the Legislature into special session to spend $2.5 billion of the Rainy Day Fund to avoid the cuts scheduled for 201213.
Combs’ BryanCollege Station appearance was one of 45 “town hall” meetings she is leading across the state. If taxpayers picked up the tab – and we probably did – we are getting ripped off. Combs is using the appearances mainly to build up her name identification and strengthen her conservative credentials in advance of a likely race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 2014.
So, of course, she used the appearance to bash the federal government over Medicaid expansion, claiming increased spending on the health care program will result in even more reductions in spending on public education. Noticeably missing was any suggestion that the state wouldn’t have to choose between health care and education if state “leaders” had the courage and foresight to replace our outdated tax structure with an adequate and fair system that will grow with the economy.
“The important thing about Texas is we’ve been an important, powerful, successful state because we take risks,” Combs said.
The only risk state government is taking now is with our children and Texas’ future. A state doesn’t become – or remain – important, powerful or successful by slashing funding for the public schools.