District 88 State Representative Ken King was in Levelland for a town hall meeting Wednesday morning.
Representative King opened the meeting by stating their are a number of priorities the state legislature has going into their session in January. He made the point though, their are only two things required by the constitution, “balance the budget and fund free public education,” those two items are required by the Texas Constitution. It was also noted 85% of the states money is spent when the session starts, leaving only 15% for other state projects other than public education.
He noted that since the last session ended, Governor Greg Abbott called a special session to work on public education, King noted the state was able to keep some rural school districts from closing with changes in the funding for schools and they also added 212 Million dollars to the teacher retirement system. King noted that he sets on a special commission for school finance, appointed by the governor. He noted that the commission has spent much of their time looking into ways to fund public schools. He noted that some are wanting to increase sales tax by 1 cent to go toward public education, however, he said that option is not likely as Governor Abbott says he will veto anything that has tax increase of any kind. He also said the possibility of state income tax would likely never happen, noting that most voters in the state would never support such a proposition.
He said that local property taxes will have to go up if more money from the state is not put into public education. He noted that the state funds 38% of public education currently and just a few years ago the state was funding 50% and estimates are the state will decrease funding by 14% in the coming years meaning the money will have to come from local funding.
King also noted that the dynamics of the state legislature will be changing as the state could lose 2-3 republican seats in the Senate and will have a new speaker of the house. He said “we must make changes to school funding by finding alternate ways to raise money in order to lower property taxes.
The discussion then turned toward school safety measures being proposed by Governor Abbott. King said “the Governor can propose a plan, however, he doesn’t pass legislation.” He went on to say, “I see nothing wrong with arming teachers if they are properly trained and school superintendent and Board of Trustees are in support,” noting that the proposal to install metal detectors in all schools and purchasing bullet proof vests is “over doing it, in my opinion” said King.
When asked about the possibility of school vouchers as the Governor and Lt. Governor are both in favor of, King said “I will vote no on any voucher bill of any kind, noting in my opinion they are unconstitutional, adding “my goal is an equal education for all.”