House budget plan underfunds education, delays payments to Medicaid, and denies women family planning and women’s health services, while leaving $13 billion in state’s coffers unspent
AUSTIN — Tonight, State Representative Chris Turner voted against the proposed state budget in the Texas House of Representatives. Turner’s main objection centered on public school funding, which was cut by $5.4 billion two years ago, and remains underfunded in the budget passed by the House.
“I think people in Tarrant County and across our state expect a government that makes smart decisions to invest in our future,” said Representative Chris Turner. “There is no greater investment in our future than doing everything we can to help the nearly five million school children of Texas realize their full God-given potential by providing the very best public education for each and every one of them. This budget falls well short of that basic values test, which is why I voted no.”
In a February 2013 bi-partisan poll commissioned by the Texas State Teachers Association, 79% of those surveyed favored restoring the $5 billion cut from public schools, now that the state’s Rainy Day Fund is an estimated $12 billion.
According to a recent analysis by the National Education Association, Texas currently ranks 49th in per pupil education funding. As passed, the House budget only restores $2.5 billion of the $5.4 billion cut from Texas public schools in 2011.
“For nearly two years, I have heard loud and clear from parents, teachers and education leaders in our district that the $5.4 billion in public education cuts that the last Legislature imposed have dramatically harmed our schools. We have fewer teachers and larger class sizes. Districts have had to make painful cuts in electives, the arts, technology and materials and more,” Turner continued.
In an attempt to ensure additional funding for Texas public schools, Representative Turner offered an amendment to the budget during the floor debate that would have given the state the ability to allocate revenue from derived from higher than anticipated district property values. Representative Turner’s amendment would require the additional revenue be reinvested back in to Texas public schools. The amendment did not pass.
In addition to not fully restoring cuts to public education, it’s estimated that 47,000 eligible women will still not have access to state family planning services. The House budget also underfunded Medicaid growth by an estimated $2.5 billion. Although there was an amendment adopted which would open the door for Texas to expand Medicaid, it was later pulled from consideration.