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Texas Dems want Abbott to call a special session to address 'school budget crisis'

Gov. Greg Abbott received a letter from 39 Texas House Democrats on Monday calling for a special session to “address the school budget crisis unfolding statewide,” which he promptly countered.

State Rep. Jon E. Rosenthal (D-Houston) led the letter to Abbott, which read, “Texas public schools are facing serious budget challenges from inflation, historic underfunding, and unfunded mandates that will drive drastic budget cuts in ISDs across the state.”

“These issues arise from the state’s failure to improve school funding since 2019,” it said.

“As Governor, you have the sole authority to both call an emergency session and determine the legislative priorities to be considered,” the letter continued. “We urge you to bring the Legislature back to Austin to fulfill our Constitutional duty to provide suitable funding for public education.”

Abbott responded within hours, stating, “I worked … last year to design a school choice and public school funding package that would have achieved exactly what you seek. All of the representatives who signed this letter voted to kill that package” 

The governor wrote that in reference to Rep. Brad Buckley’s (R-Killeen) education package of 2023, which was a new version of House Bill 1. It would have provided “$6 billion" towards school funding, including aspects such as raised teacher salaries and increased school safety measures. The omnibus included education savings accounts (ESA), a plan that would have established school choice options for Texas children, with approximately $10,500 per student.

All 39 of the letter’s signees voted against Buckley’s school funding package in 2023.

“My commitment to improving public schools is just as resolute as yours,” Abbott said. “To achieve our shared goal, however, it is incumbent upon you to work with your fellow House members to muster the votes in the Texas House to get it passed — something you were unwilling to do last year.”

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