Our children’s education in Texas is facing billions in proposed budget cuts that would include slashing arts education, Head Start and financial aid as lawmakers take on a massive deficit with the promise of no new taxes or the use of the $9.4 billion in the emergency Rainy Day Fund.
“It’s a catastrophe. No financial aid for kids to go to college. No pre-kindergarten for kids to learn their numbers and their letters. Health and human services slashed,” said Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. “No Texan can be proud of this.”
Conservative leaders have promised no new taxes to help resolve the budget problem, and have decided that the crisis isn’t bad enough to use the state’s Rainy Day Fund, a savings account meant for hard times. Instead, they have proposed cutting programs and services that low income people across the state depend on—a position that will turn the budget crisis into a social crisis for poor and moderate income Texans.
Take Head Start for example. The Pre-kinder program gives children of poor families educational opportunities they otherwise couldn’t afford. At the same time the program frees up time for mothers to work and bring home extra income, helping their families stay afloat. Cutting Head Start would put poor children at a further disadvantage while putting additional financial strain on working mothers and their families.
And the proposed cuts to the TEXAS Grant Program, one of the primary sources of financial aid for students at UTPA and UTB-TSC, would hit low income students hardest. UTB-TSC President Juliet V. Garcia estimated that with an anticipated 41 percent cut to the TEXAS Grant program, 674 UTB-TSC incoming freshmen would be left without financial assistance. 92 percent of UTB-TSC students are from low-income families.
Not all conservative politicians are taking such an anti-poor people stance on budget issues and the use of the Rainy Day Fund. Many, like Republican Rep. John Zerwas, understand that their constituents depend on those services and won’t be happy about major cuts to education and health care. But those conservatives are not in the majority and use of the Rainy Day Fund requires two thirds of both the House and Senate to vote in favor of its use.
There is still hope that the Legislature will vote to use the Rainy Day Funds, namely because more and more sectors of Texans are getting organized and calling for its use. You can join them by calling Governor Perry today. Call the Governor’s Citizen Opinion Hotline, (800) 252-9600, and say:
As a Texas voter, I want you to know that our state’s public schools are extremely important to me, my family and my community. To maintain public education in our current financial crisis, I ask you to use the $9.3 Billion Texas “Rainy Day” Fund to support public schools.