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Education Funding Is Obstacle To State Budget Agreement

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-969460.mp3

Dallas, TX – Education funding appears to be the sticking point for state lawmakers trying to approve a new, two year budget that cuts nearly every state program.

Wednesday a must-pass bill that would raise additional budget money was postponed in the House. Key lawmakers predicted the impasse would keep the legislature from passing a budget by May 30, the last day of the session, and force lawmakers to meet in a special summer session this summer.

Meanwhile, State representative Mike Villarreal, a San Antonio democrat, says the $1.2 billion extra dollars in revenue the comptroller announced Wednesday will do little to close the shortfall for the state's funding of schools.

Villarreal says most of the $1.2 billion is already committed and the $500 million extra from increased sales tax collections won't change much.

Villarreal: Five hundred $500 million is helpful but it's not going to close the gap of where we are. We currently underfund the Foundation School Program by $8 billion. This new revenue estimate by the comptroller is not going to prevent hundreds of thousands of school based employees from losing their jobs.

Representative Villarreal wrote a rule that requires the non-partisan legislative budget board to tell representatives how many jobs will be lost under the proposed budget. An early estimate said Texas could lose more than 330,000 public and private jobs in 2013 if the House's budget were adopted. Villarreal wants an updated estimate of job loss for any final budget considered for adoption.