While Texas remains on top as the strongest economy nationwide, the state is feeling the effects of the recession. The Comptroller's forecast indicates tax revenue will drop significantly in the next biennium, and most Republican state lawmakers are planning budget cuts rather than tax increases, saying there are "no sacred cows."
Well, the cattle are lowing. Some of the loudest howls of protest are coming from the public education sector, our own Round Rock ISD superintendent Jesus Chavez among them. Chavez is claiming that the cuts to the district may total as much as $73 million, and the only thing they can possibly do is lay off teachers.
Okay, first of all, no-one is really sure where Jesus Chavez is getting this $73 million figure; even if the 'starting point' budget proposal unveiled last week became the final budget, (it won't) the cut to RRISD would be approximately $46 million. Now, to be sure, that is a lot of money. However, in a KVUE interview last night, Jesus said RRISD has its own rainy day fund of $200 million.
So, Jesus Chavez claims that if the State cuts his budget he'll have to lay off teachers, but he has $200 MILLION in a RAINY DAY FUND? I don't know what kind of new math they're teaching in Round Rock Schools, but it looks to me like $200 MILLION is about $154 MILLION MORE THAN $46 MILLION.
It is very troubling that the ISD and Dr. Chavez are demanding use of the State's Rainy Day Fund, and claiming that cuts will force them to lay-off teachers, (because, apparently, there is not one ounce of waste anywhere else in the ISD budget). Furthermore, Dr. Chavez and Board of Trustee Member Diane Cox, (running for re-election in 2011) are among those lobbying the legislature for the right to raise property taxes without voter approval. All the while, they are sitting on $200 million.
This leads us to ask, what kind of game are these folks playing? Isn't it time that they stop using scare tactics and started taking the economic recession seriously? How about the district does what most American families are having to do, cut any and all waste out of the budget at every level. And for goodness' sake, tap into that rainy day fund. It's raining.