The Texas Education Agency’s budget proposal is being billed as a way to pay for a $300 million expansion of the state’s education finance program.
The new tax credit for education would fund a number of new initiatives and help fund the construction of a new high school and an extension of the existing Texas Tech campus in Houston.
The state also is proposing to add $100 million to the education finance account, a $250 million increase over the current amount, to pay the state for new school construction and to pay down the state debt, which currently stands at $2.3 billion.
The state also has promised to spend $30 million on scholarships and grants to improve student learning, which is intended to encourage more students to pursue higher education.
The new education finance plan is being proposed by education officials, state senators and education experts who said it would provide significant new revenue for the state.
“We have a very strong, high-quality education system,” said Rep. Ron Nirenberg, a Democrat from the Dallas suburbs.
“The best way to improve the system is to provide more revenue to the people who make up the system.”
However, the tax credit proposal could face stiff opposition from education experts and lawmakers in Texas, who say it is unnecessary.
“There is no evidence that this is going to do anything for the public schools, to improve graduation rates or increase student achievement,” said state Rep. Jose Santiago, a Republican from Houston.
“This is going after some people and not the state.”
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Some education experts said that, in light of recent budget cuts, the proposed tax credit would only serve to perpetuate existing programs and could be a source of money for private schools rather than improve the quality of education for students.
The proposed education tax credits would fund the state as well as the school districts that are under the control of the Texas School Boards Association, which was established by the Legislature to oversee education in Texas.
“I think this is a very big deal,” said David Burt, a professor at Texas Tech University who teaches political science.
“I think we are in a real moment in our state where we have to ask questions of education funding and whether it is actually helping the education system, and whether that’s really the right use of the money.
We can’t be doing this for a generation.”
But Education Commissioner Kevin Parker said the tax credits are part of a broader effort to make education more accessible and accessible to all students.
“It’s not that we have no accountability measures,” he said.
“We do have a lot of accountability measures.
This is not a new initiative.
This has been in the works for years.”
The proposal has also been criticized by education advocates and the Texas Tribune.
“Tax credit will not improve students’ test scores and teachers’ ratings,” wrote Michael Kinsman, a research fellow at the conservative-leaning Competitive Enterprise Institute.
“But it does create a huge incentive to push more students into charter schools, in what will likely be a very profitable venture.”
Kinsman added that the tax breaks “could be used to make it easier for students to go to private schools and charter schools and that’s a good thing.”
While the proposal is likely to face a significant backlash from the public education community, Parker said it is in the state budget’s best interest.
“The state has always been committed to the state and to education and that has never changed,” he told the Texas Education Association last month.
“As we look at the future of our state, it’s very important that we balance our budget.”