So, how’s a school district to finalize and adopt its own budget?
By Elsa Maxey
A budget that should be a disappointment to all Texans is what Dist. 27 State Rep. Ron Reynolds calls the state budget that could have been adopted slashing billions from public education confirming “the worst fears of parents, students and teachers.”
Instead, the 82nd Texas regular legislative session came to an end on Monday, May 30, only to begin de novo on Tuesday, May 31, as a special session because there was no consensus on the state budget, according to reports. The special session was called by Governor Rick Perry and on the agenda is the public school financing plan, Medicaid reform and other items.
The lack of an adopted state plan leaves school districts throughout the state, including Fort Bend ISD, missing an essential component for determining their own budgets. The school districts still do not know the amount of the state allocation to help support their operations for the next school year. Fort Bend ISD intends to adopt its final budget in June and has scheduled a public meeting on June 7 to discuss next year’s budget for its projected enrollment of 69,300 students.
The special session of the legislature was reportedly forced due to a filibuster on Sunday that blocked a plan to give school districts $4 billion less than they would have received under the current law. The new plan called for new formulas for state funding of public schools.
State Rep. Reynolds, who objected to the measures called for in the proposed state plan, said that Texas could be projected to run out of money by early 2013.
As for the special session, some sources say there may be pressure for using more money from the Rainy Day Fund, which has about $6.5 million of unused funds. Dist. 26 State Rep. Charlie Howard said in what could be termed a “Rainy Day Explanation for Dummies,” that the specific purpose behind the creation of the Economic Stabilization Fund, commonly referred to as the Rainy Day Fund, was to cover shortfalls in the event of an economic downturn during the previously appropriated biennial budget. He also said that the state bases its budget proposals off expected revenue estimates from the State Comptroller. So, when an economic downturn occurs, the state generates substantially less revenue than previously estimated. “This was the specific intention behind the creation of the Economic Stabilization Fund,” and “It was never intended to be a savings account for the state to use when writing the budget for the next biennium.”
The special legislative session now underway can last up to 30 days, but reports indicate that multiple sessions may be called.