Texas ranks 49th in per student spending

Texas ranks 49th in the nation in spending per student, according to research compiled by the National Education Association.

The professional organization put the state third to last in the ranking with the other states and Washington, D.C.

Arizona and Nevada spent less per child on education, according to the research, which was presented in a Texas State Teachers Association news release.

Texas spent about $8,400 per student this school year, more than $3,000 less than the national average, according to the data.

Dave McNeely: Will Texas lawmakers invest or cut taxes?

As the Texas Legislature kicked off its 140-day regular biennial session, the state’s top three leaders were touting the same message: Texas ain’t Washington.

Republican Joe Straus, just re-elected to a third term as House speaker, bragged that, “In the Texas House, we don’t put the Republicans on one side of the room and the Democrats on the other.”

Unlike Washington, “we work with our colleagues, regardless of party,” said Straus, who became speaker in 2009 with near-unanimous Democratic help to oust Republican predecessor Tom Craddick.

First drafts of state budget hold the line on spending

AUSTIN – The Republican-led Legislature plunged into the opening round of writing a new state budget Monday as leaders in the House and Senate released separate initial spending plans that drew quick attacks from critics for failing to restore more than $5 billion in education cuts imposed by lawmakers two years ago.

House leaders are calling for $187.7 billion in spending over the next two years, while the Senate version proposes $186.8 million.

Reflecting a directive from Gov. Rick Perry, the budgets essentially take a hold-the-line approach to spending and are substantially below robust revenue projections available to lawmakers for the upcoming 2014-15 fiscal biennium, which starts in Sept. 1. The Senate proposes a $3.1 billion, or 1.6 percent, decrease from current spending while the House would cut spending by $2.2 billion or 1.2 percent.

Expert: Schools need additional $6 billion a year to meet higher standards

Testimony in school finance trial shows low-income students far behind on new tests.

Texas school districts need an additional $6 billion a year to get students up to the high academic standards lawmakers have put in place, a school finance expert testified on Monday during the ongoing trial.

“I don’t believe that we’re going to close educational gaps and reach … college and career (readiness) without spending additional money,” said Lynn Moak, a consultant who has testified at all six school finance trials in Texas.

Texas school districts spent a total of $43.1 billion for operating cost in 2010-11, the school year before the Legislature enacted $2.5 billion in education cuts. Moak estimated that in addition to restoring the cuts, schools would need an additional $6 billion to boost the performance of low-income students and English-language learners, in particular.

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