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Rep.Guillen, Ryan

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Representative Ryan Guillen blasts Harvard plan, offers equal educational opportunity constitutional  print page

by: Rep. Guillen, Ryan
03/26/2003

Yesterday, the House Education Committee heard a slick presentation crafted by a Harvard economist and paid for by what the Austin American Statesman called a "Wealthy GOP donor."

It was billed as a solution to Texas’ school finance problems.

The proposal is designed to tempt Texans with the idea that a small "flat" income tax would cut school property taxes by as much as 60%.

Like all "get rich quick" schemes, there is a hook. The proposal, as presented to the Mexican American Legislative Caucus last week, also calls for removing the one dollar and fifty cent cap on school property taxes.

We have to ask ourselves, WHY a plan that promises to drop property taxes also wants to make sure property taxes can be raised as high as possible without limit at a later date. It seems to me that they know that in the long run, their promises of a cure will not work.

One reason it will not work is that it is a return to the same system that was ruled unconstitutional over a decade ago and which led to our current system of school finding.

We have all heard the story of the carrot and the stick.

The CARROT in their plan calls for all schools to receive more money than they are getting now to tempt them to jump at the bait.

The STICK is that after the first round of funding, wealthy school districts can raise their own property taxes to provide vastly increased education opportunity for their students. Poor areas, unable to tax themselves as heavily and with a tax base that produces far less revenue for each penny of tax rate, will not be able to keep up.

It will return us to a system where the quality of public education in Texas will depend on where you live.

This week we will introduce a Constitutional Amendment requiring that any method of funding public education In Texas adopted by the legislature must provide "equal educational opportunity" to every student in Texas.

If passed by the legislature and approved by the voters in November, this amendment will have the profound effect of making sure that every child from the Texas Panhandle to the mouth of the Rio Grande River has an equal chance to a quality public education.

It will end the days when some school districts have more equipment, materials, or teachers than they can use while others must make do with far less.

Texas students across the state deserve an equal chance to compete on a level playing field where the same resources and quality of education is available to all. Our best and brightest boys and girls from all parts of the state should climb the ladder of education to positions of leadership side by side.

Then they can share equally the burden and the joy of working to make their world a better place.

This is my dream, and if we are lucky we may pass this amendment this year. In the real world, these initiatives take time, and if we cannot get enough votes to pass it this year, we will bring it back next session and try again.

We will not give up on ANY of the children in Texas.

For more information contact:
Communications Director Robert McVey
Office 512-463-0416 -- Cell 512-779-8914 -- Home 512-374-9525 FAX 512-463-1012

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