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Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick says public schools not underfunded

Are Texas schools underfunded? Lt. Gov Dan Patrick pushes back on those claims
Are Texas schools underfunded? Lt. Gov Dan Patrick pushes back on those claims 02:45

AUSTIN - Lt. Governor Dan Patrick pushed back against educators and Democrats who've criticized state lawmakers for short-changing public schools. 

"It's the big lie. We spend one out of every $2 on public education and higher education, our whole budget. Fifty percent of our budget is on education," said Patrick. 

He spoke exclusively with CBS News Texas Friday afternoon at the Texas Capitol.

Patrick said lawmakers approved more money for public schools this year. 

"Somewhere of a 14 to 18% increase in funding just this session."     

But Jon Dahlander, Chief of Partnerships and Intergovernmental Affairs at Dallas ISD, told CBS News Texas the money allocated by the state hasn't kept up with inflation. 

"For every school district, funding is a major issue right now," shared Dahlander.

Some Democratic lawmakers in Texas House have said it would take $40 billion to bring up to public schools to the proper funding level. 

Despite attempts, state lawmakers have not approved spending more money for schools, and Dahlander said lawmakers have the money. "They have at least $5 billion, and some estimates are up to $15 billion dollars that's available to them."

He said Dallas ISD recently passed a $186 million dollar deficit budget so that it could provide teachers and staff a 3% raise. "There is still some money that's left in reserve."

When asked why school districts such as Dallas and Plano ISD's, among others, have passed deficit budgets, Patrick said, "I can't explain how they write their budgets. I can tell you this, we have 1200 school districts. I don't know about every district, but a lot of them spent their money they got during covid and they hired people with it, even though it was one-time money."

Dahlander said the district did spend one time money for COVID-19, but that much of their deficit budget was caused by more than that. As for providing schools more money, lawmakers are likely to end the fourth special session without sending a bill to the Governor.

The Senate passed SB 2, which provides districts more money per student and pay raises for teachers. But the bill hasn't been considered in the House.

Patrick said he wants the House to approve the Senate measure. "Yes, look, we passed the bill over there. Pass it."      

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said last month he would veto an education bill that didn't include taxpayer-financed education savings accounts.

Patrick said, "Our job is to pass legislation. It's the governor's decision to veto or not."

Additional school security funding won't likely pass either.

The House approved HB 2, that would create a funding source to provide districts grants to make improvements at campuses. It would require voter approval. But that legislation sat in the Senate, and on Friday, the upper chamber passed its own measure, SB 5, which provides less money to schools, but more quickly.

It would not create a special fund that would require voter approval.

No word yet if Abbott will call lawmakers back for a fifth special session.

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