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Texas School Funding Has Declined Under Abbott’s Tenure, Data Shows

Gov. Greg Abbott has claimed to have increased school funding since taking office, but recent data from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) shows that inflation-adjusted per-pupil funding for public schools has declined since 2014.

The annual report, published last week, provides a detailed breakdown of public school funding sources, including weighted average daily attendance, which determines annual district allocations.

Last year, Abbott and his team used the 2023 TEA report to assert that per-student funding was at an all-time high and that he had approved more funding for public schools than any other governor in Texas history. However, these figures were incorrectly adjusted for recent high inflation.

The San Antonio Express-News reports that the new data indicates that  per-student funding in fiscal year 2023 was $6,669, slightly below the 2014 figure of $6,680, when Abbott first took office.

School districts across the state are facing severe financial challenges. Some of the state’s largest districts have announced massive layoffs to deal with the immense deficit they’re facing. Abbott, however, has blamed the schools for the financial problems.

“You’ll be shocked to hear this, but it’s not me that’s responsible for this,” Abbott said in an interview with the KYFO radio station. “The federal government just sent a boatload of money to our schools, and that increased their budgets dramatically. Some schools were responsible in their budgeting to make sure that would not happen; others not so much. Some school districts, for example, took that money and hired additional people, and now they do not have that money coming into them from the federal government, and as a result, they have to lay off those people, and that’s a consequence of spending the money that way.”

Last year, the state had a record $32 billion surplus, yet lawmakers failed to pass an education package that would have increased funding for schools. Lawmakers voted against it because the increased funding was tied to a private school voucher plan, and lawmakers argued that it would have further defunded public schools.

Abbott has refused to consider any increase in public school funding without a school voucher plan attached.

A month ago, state Rep. Jon Rosenthal, D-Houston, wrote a letter to Abbott asking him to call a for a special session to address school finance. But Abbott rejected the proposal.

“To achieve our shared goal, however, it is incumbent upon you to work with your fellow Texas House members to muster the votes to get it passed—something you were unwilling to do last year,” Abbott said.

RA Staff
RA Staff
Written by RA News staff.


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