from the Office of State Senator Craig Estes, District 30

For Immediate Release
April 13, 2004
Contact: Lewis Simmons
Phone: (940) 689-0191

Senator Craig Estes Comments on Special Session

AUSTIN -- State Senator Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, expressed optimism that the Texas Legislature will implement meaningful tax reforms and improvements to public education funding when legislators meet in special session later this month.

Governor Rick Perry has called the special session on Educational Excellence and Property Tax Relief to begin April 20.

"Equitable and fair funding for public schools and the responsibility of providing a quality education for all the children of our state is a paramount issue facing Texas today." Estes said.

"Many proposals are being discussed that could affect the students, schools, and taxpayers. I am proud we are having this intellectual discourse in an effort to fully investigate the complexities of public school finance and tax reform. There are many pieces to this puzzle, and we should pursue a complete understanding of how the various pieces might fit together before making any decisions of such magnitude," he said.

Estes said he has three priorities in addressing public education finance and tax reform.

"Property taxes must be lowered, equity in funding must be maintained for all public schools, and more money must be directed toward the classroom," Estes said.

"The school districts I serve represent a significant diversity of resources and needs, just like the communities in which these children are being educated. I am continuing to have discussions with educators, parents, students, homeowners, business owners, community leaders, and others in an effort to understand their various perspectives before going to Austin for this special session," Estes said.

Among those discussions have been a series of regional meetings organized by Estes with superintendents from each of the school districts in his 18-county senatorial district. He said it is imperative that legislators place an emphasis on equity by closing the gap in funding between the state's wealthiest school districts and its poorest school districts.

"I have 108 school districts in my senatorial district. Only four are Chapter 41 'wealthy' districts while the other 104 are Chapter 42 'poor' districts. I believe every child deserves a quality education; therefore, equity in the funding formula must be an ingredient of any acceptable legislation," Estes said.

-- 30 --