School district leaders, the mainstream media and Texans at large all seem to understand that the Texas Legislature cut funding for public education during the Legislative session this year. For the 2012-13 biennium, school districts are dealing with a $4 billion cut in per-student funding and an additional $1.4 billion cut to grant programs that funded education initiatives.
Still, ever since the legislative session ended this summer some lawmakers and others have been making the claim that public education actually saw an increase in funding. They've based those claims on comparing biennium-to-biennium numbers, not taking into account the fact that Texas school districts will serve an additional 170,000 students over the next two years.
But this week, the Texas House of Representatives released numbers that will make that spin even harder to sell. According to the House Research Organization's report on Texas budget highlights for Fiscal 2012-13, funding for public education decreased from the 2010-11 biennium across the board. The increase in enrollment makes the decrease in funding even more hurtful.
From the report:
The fiscal 2012-13 budget appropriates $50.8 billion in all funds to public education agencies, including the Texas Education Agency (TEA), the Teacher Retirement System (TRS), the School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the School for the Deaf. Appropriations in all funds represent a decrease of about $3 billion, or 5.6 percent, from fiscal 2010-11 spending.
The report goes on to say that of that $50.8 billion, $47 billion was appropriated to TEA - a $4.4 billion decrease from 2010-11. There was also a $1 billion decrease to appropriations to the Foundation School Program for 2012-13.
I'm sure this won't silence those who want to paint school districts as over-dramatizing the current budget situation, but it sure makes their argument harder to buy.