Office of the Governor Rick Perry

65 Percent Executive Order

*Note - Gov. Perry frequently departs from prepared remarks.
Monday, August 22, 2005  •  Speech

Good morning and thank you all for joining us.  I am honored to be here with Texas Education Commissioner Doctor Shirley Neeley.

For the past two years, Texans have heard a great deal of talk about education reform. 

They’ve watched lawmakers make proposals...
...heard them debated...
...and seen them voted on. 

They’ve seen a lot of activity in the legislature, but not a lot of action...
...and so far, they have yet to reap any concrete results.

In January of this year I designated education reform and property tax relief as an emergency issue for elected officials in Austin...
...because it was, and is, the number one legislative priority for the people of Texas.

While the legislative session has now ended, the need for school reform has not. 

And I want Texans to be assured:... even though the legislature did not act, I will.

The people have demanded reform...
...they have been promised reform...
...and I intend to deliver reform using the full constitutional authority of the executive branch.

Last week I directed Commissioner Neeley to raise the minimum pay for Texas teachers...
...and initiated a $295 million budget execution order to ensure that textbooks sitting in warehouses are shipped to classrooms for use this semester.

Today I am issuing an executive order that will put into law some of the most important education reforms that lawmakers failed to pass...
...including a requirement that 65 percent of all education funds be spent on direct classroom instruction.


The action I am taking today will mean more financial accountability for taxpayers...
...more efficiency in school spending...
...and more money directed to the classroom so that more children achieve.

Under this directive, Commissioner Neeley will design and implement a new financial accountability and reporting system for Texas schools. 

For each of the next several years, schools will be required to spend an increasingly greater share of funds on direct classroom instruction...
...which is defined by the National Center for Education Statistics...
...until the ultimate goal of 65 percent is reached. 

That means schools that do not already meet this standard will be spending more on items like classroom computers and technology, science lab equipment, instructional materials and supplies...
...or even better, on higher teacher salaries.


The school districts that have sued the state for more education spending would oppose this reasonable measure only if they feel more education money should be spent outside the classroom. 

While there certainly must be money spent on transportation, school lunches and reasonable administrative costs, it seems only right that...
...if success in the classroom is the goal...
...close to two-thirds of education dollars should be spent directly on classroom instruction. 

This executive order also requires schools to report how efficiently they are using taxpayer dollars...
...and whether they are making use of shared-services agreements and consolidating administrative functions with other government entities. 

Schools that are wasting tax dollars will be subject to special accreditation investigations and tough sanctions.

And this action will also give taxpayers the accountability they deserve because it opens every school district’s financial books to public scrutiny. 
Taxpayers will be able to find out how much of their money is going to teacher salaries...
...and how much is going to lucrative compensation packages for top administrators. 

They can see for themselves whether funds are fairly distributed among campuses in a district, or whether there is a disparity. 

And taxpayers will be able to determine how much is being spent to teach their children...
...and how much on public relations campaigns, lobbying the legislature or suing the state for more taxpayer money. 

With this information in hand, parents will be empowered to demand change if needed at the local level.

Taxpayers may find they have the best-run schools in the state of Texas. 

Or they may find areas where their schools should be getting more for their money. 
But the point is, the only way the people will know for sure is by giving them more transparency.

While the reforms I am announcing today address financial issues, their greatest impact will not be seen in school budgets...
...but in school classrooms, where children will benefit from wise spending better focused on their success.

I certainly would have preferred to implement these measures through legislation so that they would not be subject to revocation by any future administration.

But I am taking this action today because improving classroom performance is simply too important to wait for lawmakers to overcome their differences. 

And while I will continue to work towards a legislative consensus on school finance...
...I cannot delay taking action that will benefit schoolchildren, parents and taxpayers. 

They deserve better than unfulfilled promises and continued delays.  They deserve immediate action.

While I cannot mandate a property tax cut or authorize an across-the-board teacher pay raise on my own...
...I will continue to take my case directly to the people until lawmakers find the collective will to act. 

When Texans band together and speak out forcefully for real property tax relief that includes lower rates and protections against rising appraisals...
...I believe lawmakers will discover the resolve to finish their work.

Until then, I will continue to use my constitutional authority to ensure that the education reforms mandated by the people are implemented according to their will. 

Thank you.  At this time it is my honor to introduce the Commissioner of Education, Dr. Shirley Neeley...

At this time we would be happy to take your questions...

Gov. Rick Perry announces executive order requiring school districts to put at least 65 percent of tax dollars directly in the classroom. With the governor are Education Commissioner Shirley Neeley (right) and Susan Savoy (left), owner of Teacher Heaven.
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