Neighbors, March 2 was Texas Independence Day, the 175th celebration of our independence. In our Texas Constitution, there is only one article that talks about funding. It establishes provisions for public schools, “…it shall be DUTY OF THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools” (Article 7, Texas Constitution). A clear requirement, not a suggestion. Our legislators are more worried about tax reductions than completing their constitutional charge: make suitable provision for our public schools.
Legislators are stating they do not want to use the “Rainy Day Fund,” believing it was designed to help only in cases of hurricanes or paying off bonds. Actually, the constitutional amendment established that it is to be used to offset unforeseen shortfalls in revenue. We have major shortfalls in revenue; severe enough that school districts throughout the state will be forced to lay off approximately 100,000 teachers this year alone and leave inadequate staff to support our children.
I ask that you please join other Texans in writing, emailing and calling your state legislators. Please let them know what our priorities are, including: Strategic use of the Rainy Day Fund; adequate funding of our schools; support for local control of schools and funding; new legislation that requires state mandates to be fully funded or to be eliminated; and legislation that will protect critical district fund balances that maintain cash flow and support bond ratings.