Austin, Texas – Funding for education remains a hot topic in Texas, with both House and Senate budget proposals providing $7 billion for public education.
House Bill 100, which has been sent to the Senate Education Committee, provides another $4.5 billion, along with several other major reforms. However, the wild card in this funding discussion remains the impasse on school vouchers, especially education savings accounts, a hybrid idea floated by Gov. Greg Abbott that would be a new budget item.
State Representative Ken King (R-Canadian) filed HB 100 on key parts of the legislation and sat down with FOX 7 Austin’s Rudy Koski for this edition of Texas: The Issue Is.
REPORT OF STATE KEN KING: You know, there’s a little bit of everything. And it’s, as you pointed out, it’s probably the crux of the bill, is the shift from average daily attendance to enrollment. But we put money into something that I’ve been working on for years and I’m very proud of is a fine art assignment. You know, no kid is ever told to include mine. I look forward to school for math classes, you know, and fine art or something that keeps kids interested in their educational careers. And so I was excited to have it. We place a math quota for more rigorous math classes. Let’s put more money into CTE funding, put more money into teachers by changing the minimum wage plan.
RUDY KOSKI: You have integrated some inflation measures.
REPORT OF STATE KEN KING: I think we have. You know, one of the things that happened was transportation. We increased the haulage allocation substantially in 2019 with House Bill 3. But you look at the cost of diesel and we haven’t increased it enough over the last couple of years. House Bill 100 increases the transportation fee by $0.54. And these are substantial numbers.
RUDY KOSKI: Something to say in closing? Are you worried that the Senate might screw this up in conference committee?
REPORT OF STATE KEN KING: You know, I don’t think so. I think the Senate is that while they’re pushing for coupons or education savings accounts, they have their Senate Bill 8 that’s in the House right now, I really don’t expect the Senate to try to destroy House Bill 100 with a coupon amendment. But, you know, we’ll see in the conference committee.
RUDY KOSKI: What do you say to the people who want the choice of school, the governor who wants the school bills?
REPORT OF STATE KEN KING: Well, for me, I mean, if you look at my House District, House District 88 has 19 counties where I don’t have a charter school, I have maybe two or three private schools, and only one or two of those go through 12th grade. You know, choosing school for rural Texas is making your public education option the best it can be. And then in regards to school choice, if you’re in a failing district, if you’re a parent, you have a child in a failing district, you can transfer your child. Now, we’ve also expanded virtual education and given a huge amount of options there, I think we have an education choice galore, particularly when you talk about special education. We hear a lot of rhetoric about the existence of a CRT in our classrooms and pornography in our libraries and stuff like that. And this is all under a system with accountability. What do we do? We give taxpayer money to private schools that there is no accountability. We can’t look into their libraries.
RUDY KOSKI: No parent should be hindered in their ability to…
REPORT OF STATE KEN KING: Use that power to do whatever it takes. I think the argument being made for education savings accounts and vouchers is strictly political because it doesn’t stand up to the political issue.