From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
May 10, 1997
Contact: Rick Svataro, (512) 463-0113

Texas Senate Includes Funds for Adult Literacy Programs In Property Tax Bill

AUSTIN, Tx. -- Adult literacy services in Texas would receive a $1.5 million funding increase due to an amendment to the state's property tax overhaul approved today by the Texas Senate. The proposal, by State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), would dedicate 50 percent of increased revenues generated by taxing the catalog sales of Texas businesses to the Texas Education Agency for adult literacy services. Ellis said adult illiteracy in Texas is a serious problem that threatens the state's economic future.

"Adult literacy programs are a vital part of moving families from welfare to work," Ellis said. "Citizens who have the ability to read and participate in lifelong learning will be more likely to succeed in a quickly changing and challenging 21st century global economy."

The Ellis amendment to House Bill 4 would allow the Comptroller to tax the catalog sales of businesses that have a physical presence in Texas. According to Ellis, the proposal will generate approximately $3 million over the 1998-1999 fiscal biennium -- half of which would be dedicated to adult literacy programs. The legislation, which received final Senate approval today, now goes to a conference committee where differences between the House and Senate versions will be addressed.

"Expanding adult literacy services is essential to support Texans who fall through the cracks in our traditional education system," Ellis said. "We must do everything we can to help make literacy services available to every adult Texan who needs them."

Texas Adult Literacy Facts:

Half of Texas AFDC recipients have literacy skills lower than those required for above minimum wage entry level jobs (Texas Adult Literacy Survey).

According to the 1994 Texas Adult Literacy Survey, more than 6 million Texas adults are functionally illiterate. Nationally, Texas ranks second behind California in the population of under-educated adults, and the state's current appropriation for adult literacy is one of the lowest in the nation.

Number of Under-Educated Adults by State Adult Education Appropriations 1995
California $450 million
Texas $9 million
New York $50 million
Florida $250 million