from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: John Jacobs
(512) 463-0121
September 7, 2004

ZAFFIRINI CHAMPIONS FACILITIES FUNDING FOR SOUTH TEXAS SCHOOLS

(AUSTIN) - The Texas Education Agency announced more than $20 million of Instructional Facilities Allotment funding to 17 Texas school districts, 16 of which are in South Texas, including Laredo, Somerset and Roma Independent School Districts, which are in Senate District 21.

The IFA program initially was authorized by House Bill 4 (1997) to assist poor school districts that cannot afford facilities debt without raising taxes prohibitively.

Because of revenue shortfalls in 2003, the Legislature considered eliminating funding for IFA. As vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee and member of the Appropriations Conference Committee that writes the state's final budget, Senator Zaffirini fought to add $20 million for IFA to ensure that Texas' poorest school districts have space in which to educate their rapidly growing student populations.

"The advantage of this program is that school districts know prior to the sale of their facilities bonds if they will have state assistance," Senator Zaffirini said. "School districts can ensure local voters exactly what the tax increase will be and that it will be small due to the state assistance."

She added that IFA "is one of the essential services that Texas offers public schools. The steadily growing enrollment in Texas public schools requires instructional space, but many of our poorest school districts cannot afford to build new buildings without IFA. I am proud to have helped so many South Texas school districts have access to this important program."

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