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Texas lawmakers urged to reverse education cutbacks

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Texas - As lawmakers return to the Texas capitol today they are urged to use billions of dollars in increased revenue to reverse education cutbacks.

$5.4 billion was cut from public education last time the state legislature met.

This year, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs released the state's biennial revenue estimate at just over $100 billion and the state has $8.8 billion more than expected.

That's why teacher organizations are hoping this money can be used to restore public education and replace the cuts that were made.

The Texas State Teachers Association says the rapid growth of the school system is one reason they need to receive more funding.

But some lawmakers are not so eager to use the surplus.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Tommy Williams says it makes no sense to change public education funding formulas in the face of an ongoing lawsuit over spending.

Senate leaders will also be tackling other issues; they are eager to expand the number of charter schools in Texas and allow parents to use public money to send their children to private schools.

Lawmakers will also be considering an overhaul of the state's rigid student testing an accountability system, since it's been criticized by parents and business groups.

The Texas Association of School Boards says local control will once again be at the heart of many education battles.

Dozens of districts across the state are making it clear; they want more flexibility in how they spend their dollars, they want to set the school calendar and high school courses based on community needs.

While many legislators want to give districts more control, they say finding that middle ground isn't so easy.

Creating a business tax credit to help cover private school tuition is one thing school officials plan to fight.

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