from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gabe Valenzuela
(512) 463-0121
January 12, 2005

Dewhurst, Senators Adopt Principles for Education Bill

(AUSTIN)--Joined by a majority of the members of the Senate, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst announced today (Wednesday) that all 31 senators signed a set of principles for a school finance reform bill.

The proposed plan includes reducing property taxes by one-third and reforming the franchise tax system to provide new funding capacity.

"We're putting new dollars in to improve the quality of education," Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst said. "What's more, this plan doesn't raise the overall tax burden of Texans."

Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, is confident that she and her colleagues can formulate a quality bill that improves public education.

"The Texas Senate has worked on this plan since the regular session of 2003, when we passed Senate Bill 2," said Senator Zaffirini, a member of the Senate Education Committee since 1989. "We will continue to work hard, and I will focus my efforts to ensure that every Texas child has access to an excellent education."

The principles for the bill's development focus on students, teachers and facilities. They include increased funding for full-day pre-kindergarten programs that follow state curriculum standards, raising teacher salaries to the national average and funding for facilities in fast-growth districts.

"I am confident that the new money for early childhood programs will build upon the success of SB 76, which I authored last session, to increase access to quality pre-kindergarten programs," Senator Zaffirini said.

"Nothing less than the future of our children is at stake," she added. "Education has always been the key component to ensuring economic prosperity and a civil society. If we want a better Texas, we need an excellent public education system."

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