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Perry’s budget remarks cause concern among educators

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State education groups say Gov. Perry’s remarks on the budget this week show he isn’t making student learning a priority for Texas.

Monday, Perry asked lawmakers to sign his 'budget compact,' vowing not to raise taxes or dip into the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget in the upcoming legislative session.

"Keeping taxes low is an essential part of what’s made Texas the best place in the country to live, work and raise a family, and that’s not going to change on my watch," the governor said.

Noel Candelaria is a teacher who now helps advocate for his counterparts statewide as Vice President of the Texas State Teachers Association.

His wife also teaches, and the couple will soon have kids in the school system.

“It sends a loud signal to our parents, to our teachers, to know that they don’t have the support, and the funding is not going to be there to properly and adequately educate their students across our state,” Candelaria said.

Candelaria says Perry's words sparked concern that the $5.4 billion cut from the state's public school system in the last session was just the beginning.

“It’s starting to really affect what’s going on in the classroom. You know, when you look at teacher morale being at an all time low,” Candelaria said. “Teachers right now are having a hard time focusing on what is happening in the classroom because they’re not sure if they’re going to have a job next year.”

Twenty-two employees with the Pflugerville Independent School District lost their jobs last year as a result of the cuts.

Superintendent Charles Dupre says the problem stretches far beyond the governor's promise not to raise taxes nor dip into the Rainy Day Fund to balance the budget.

“I see it as more of the same old, same old,” Dupre said. “They’re avoiding the issue. The governor’s avoiding the real issue and that is there’s a structural deficit in the state budget that they need to address.”

Pflugerville ISD is among several plaintiffs across the state suing to make school finance more adequate and equitable.

In the meantime, groups are petitioning for the governor to call a special session to put $2.5 billion back into schools.

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