Office of the Governor Rick Perry

House News Conference on HB 2

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Wednesday, February 23, 2005  •  Speech

Thank you Chairman Grusendorf.  I’m standing up with these House members today because they have begun a productive, positive debate about how to reform education in Texas.

Their bill is a good starting point:…
…it provides more money for education…
…it is more equitable than the current system we have today…
…it rewards our best and brightest teachers…
…provides incentives for classroom improvements…
…and it gives taxpayers greater accountability and transparency in how their school dollars are spent.

I want to ask my friends in both parties…
…if they have concerns about this bill…
…to provide constructive feedback. 

Follow the example of Representative Scott Hochberg and participate in the process of making a good bill better.

Those bemoaning partisanship in Austin have a chance to do something about it:…
…help us forge bipartisan consensus rather than engaging in partisan combat.

The issue of school finance is first and foremost about the quality of our schools. 

Over the last ten years, schools have made great progress. 

Many have risen to the challenge of higher standards and now tougher tests. 

They have also been aided by more than $7 billion in new funding…
…and would continue to benefit from the additional $3 billion Chairman Grusendorf has proposed.

If you add it up, that represents a $10 billion increase over a six-year period…
…or a 38 percent increase in state funding.

But this debate is not merely about how much we spend…
…it’s also about how we spend it. 

And we won’t have maximum efficiency in our schools until taxpayers have easy access to detailed information about local school budgets.

The principle is simple:…
…if taxpayers are going to pay the bill, they ought to be able to examine every item on the receipt.

They should be able to see a breakdown of school expenditures and comparisons to school expenses across the state. 

If public dollars are used to lobby or litigate, taxpayers ought to know how much is spent and who is receiving the money.

We have a lot of good schools…
…and a lot of good education leaders in Texas. 

I want to work with them to make sure we maximize classroom expenditures so more children succeed.

Ultimately, this is about setting our sights on academic excellence for every child. 

A quality education tears down barriers to opportunity and is the great social equalizer.

Let’s not only invest greater resources in our schools…
…let’s make sure the money makes it to the classroom with reforms that ensure transparency and financial accountability.

We can have better schools and not just better-funded schools.

We can have real property tax relief…not just a temporary rate cut.

And we can meet the needs of public education and property taxpayers without raising the net tax burden on the people of Texas.

Helping to lead that effort is a former school board member serving in this distinguished body…
…Representative Rob Eissler.

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