Top 5 This Week

Related Posts

Texas Districts Drown In Deficits Despite Historic Budget Surplus

Despite having a historic budget surplus, and 246 days in session — the longest legislative session in history — lawmakers only passed 10% of education bills, thanks to Gov. Greg Abbott’s obsession with vouchers.

Keller ISD Superintendent Tracy Johnson told Community Impact that with the unprecedented surplus the state could still fix the school financing problem with a fifth special legislative session. 

“Our state doesn’t care about our kids,” Johnson said. “The cavalry isn’t coming. Keller ISD has to fix our problem. If we don’t get this fixed right now this year, we run the risk of not having a Keller ISD.”

According to the Comptroller’s website, as a result of legislative actions and an updated economic forecast they expect a revenue available for general spending in 2024-25 to total about $194.57 billion, up 24.8 percent from the 2022-23 biennium. This revenue will support the $176.28 billion in general-purpose spending called for by the 88th Legislature and will result in a projected fiscal 2025 balance available for certification of $18.29 billion.

“Despite sharply higher interest rates, household budgets stressed by inflation and adverse economic conditions among major trading partners, the national economy has continued to grow. Meanwhile, the Texas economy has outperformed the national economy, and the economic outlook included with my latest revenue estimate does not assume a recession in Texas,” Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar recently told Charles Luke of the Coalition for Education Funding.

During the fourth special session lawmakers had the opportunity to approve a bill that would have given around $6 billion to public schools. However, the bill died without a vote due to Gov. Abbott;s threats that no school funding would be passed if vouchers weren’t included.

As a result, a discernible trend is taking shape among Independent School Districts, with an increasing number reporting budget deficits.

State Senator Roland Gutierrez recently called out Abbott for doubling down on human and financial cost for Operation Lone Star, announcing $171 million Texas Military Base Camp, while his broken promise to fund public schools have led to layoffs in districts across the state.

“While the state appears to have an endless supply of money for Abbott’s border regime, Texas has declined federal funds to feed starving children, declined to raise teacher pay, and underfunded our public schools. Educators and their students now pay the price for Abbott’s broken promises to fix school funding, despite a record $32.7 billion budget surplus that we have because of President Joe Biden. In the past week alone, Fort Worth ISD has been forced to lay off 133 employees and Spring Branch ISD has announced it will lay off their entire staff of librarians district-wide,” said State Senator Roland Gutierrez in a press release. 

The Wise County Messenger said it best, for the past months, a common headline has been: [Insert school district name here] adopts a deficit budget.

Here is a list of other ISD’s that are facing deficits:

The upcoming primaries are poised to provide insights into the trajectory of the ongoing voucher debate. Gov. Abbott is targeting rural Republicans who voted against his voucher proposal in the fourth special session.

According to an RA Insider source, there is speculation regarding Abbott’s ability to secure the necessary seat turnovers in the upcoming elections. This raises the question of whether a fifth special session will be convened. 

​​Bob Stein, a political science professor at Rice University, backs up this theory. Abbott faces a challenge as the Republican primary voters typically consist of those who have previously supported incumbent Republican candidates, “and no one single issue is likely to move them or defeat them,” Stein tells RA News. “This has been tried before with very little success.” 

Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios
Jovanka Palacios, a Mexican-American Politics Reporter and Managing Editor at RA's Gun Violence Watch, unveils the Capitol's inner workings. Focused on Public Education and Gun Policies, she passionately advocates for informed dialogue, delivering concise, impactful insights into the intricate political landscape.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular Articles

Award-App Footer

Download our award-winning app