FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, June 9,
FARRAR/HOWARD AMENDMENT TO FUND ENROLLMENT GROWTH FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS
AUSTIN - Today, Rep. Donna Howard added language to an amendment to SB 2 by Rep.
Jessica Farrar to make funding for public education a priority. The
Farrar/Howard amendment would appropriate any new money that comes into the
state's Rainy Day Fund to school districts to help cover the cost of enrollment
growth in 2012 and 2013.
The budget passed during the regular session includes a $4 billion cut to public
education and does not provide money for any new students coming into a
district. Texas' student population grows at a rate of about 80,000 students
per year - roughly the size of the Austin Independent School District - and an
additional $2.2 billion is needed to fund this critical item.
The Comptroller's biennial revenue estimate as revised in May of this year,
projects a balance of $9.6 billion in the Rainy Day Fund at the end of the next
biennium. If you subtract the roughly $3.2 billion appropriated in HB 275, you
are left with a balance of $6.4 billion. The Farrar/Howard amendment would
protect that $6.4 billion and appropriate any additional money that comes into
the fund to school districts up to the amount needed to cover enrollment
"I crafted my amendment as a compromise to address the concerns of those members
who believe we need to save a portion of the Rainy Day Fund for use next
session, but who care about public education," Howard said. "This session the
make-up of the Legislature has resulted in missed opportunities for compromise
on a host of issues. Supporting public education is too important to me to have
let another opportunity go by."
Rep Howard's proposal could likely result in the full $2.2 billion needed to
cover the entire cost of enrollment growth. In April 2011, Senate Finance
Chairman Steve Ogden and Legislative Budget Board Executive Director John
O'Brien agreed that the Rainy Day Fund could "easily" rise above $12 billion in
this biennium. (Source: KXAN, Bloomberg). If the Rainy Day Fund reached $12
billion, it would exceed the latest projections by the Comptroller by $2.5
billion, and the Farrar/Howard amendment will ensure that Texas students will be
the first to benefit from this money.
The Conference Committee report on SB 2 will have to receive a two thirds vote
in the House in order for the Farrar/Howard amendment to take effect. If that
happens, the Commissioner of Education will allocate the monies available
through the amendment to proportionately modify the regular program adjustment
factor and the target revenue reduction percentage. For example, if a district
lost 1% of the total statewide loss of $2 billion, they would get about 1% of
the additional revenue caused by the amendment.
"We still have a few hurdles to get through before this amendment becomes law,
but I will continue to fight to keep this language in SB 2. My constituents
have sent a clear message that we need to protect the investment we have made in
public education, and I am listening," said Howard.
Chief Of Staff, State Rep. Donna Howard
House District 48