Friday, May 12, 2006

From Rep. Garnet Coleman--HB1 Shortchanges Our Children's Schools

May 12, 2006 (512) 463-0524

HB1 Shortchanges Our Children's Schools
Gives Big Oil and Big Business a $400 Million Tax Holiday

(Austin)//-- State Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) said today that House Bill 1, which was approved today by the Texas House, cut $400 million in funds promised to Texas school children last year and used that money to pay for a tax holiday for big oil and big business. Under the tax plan, businesses will have their property taxes cut in 2007 but will not pay the new business tax until 2008, resulting in a windfall of $400 million for the big oil, insurance, and utility industries alone.

"Today, a Texas House majority sent Texas voters a message that giving a big tax break to Exxon is a higher priority than keeping a promise made to provide $1.8 billion for our children's schools," Coleman said.

"Fifty-eight House Members voted to send HB1 to a conference committee with the hope that we would put our children's schools first, but Exxon snagged a $400 million tax holiday almost as quickly as gas shot up to $3 a gallon," he added.

Coleman explained that last summer, the House voted for an Appropriations Bill that included a rider that locked away $1.8 billion for education. House Bill 1, as passed today, rescinded that $1.8 billion commitment and provided only slightly more than $1.4 billion for public education.

"Even with an $8.2 billion surplus and a $4 billion Perry tax plan, HB 1 cut $400 million from the amount the House promised to use for our children's schools just last year," Coleman explained.

Coleman explained that in 2003, the Legislature cut over $3 billion from proven educational improvement initiatives that prevent dropouts and enhance basic classroom instruction.

"Texans were told that this special session was about improving our children's schools, but instead, this session cut $400 million from education funds approved in 2005 and never bothered to address $3 billion that has been cut from education since 2003," Coleman said.

Coleman explained that schools and other critical state needs will suffer from the HB1 and HB2 tax scheme that will shoot a $5 billion "hole" in the budget for 2007-2208 and even larger potential deficits in the future.

"Our children's schools should be our highest priority, but this special session had everything to do with a tax cuts for the powerful special interests and gave our children's schools a little candy for one year while cooking up a recipe for long term starvation and failure," Coleman concluded.

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