POSTED: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 - 9:48pm
UPDATED: Thursday, March 24, 2011 - 3:07pm
EL PASO- A major step today towards passing a budget in the Texas State Legislature. That's after a key committee passed a tentative proposal.
Lawmakers on the House Appropriations Committee pushed through a budget proposal that includes cuts across the board.
A first step Wednesday into what will be a painful budget process for Texas. The tentative proposal calls for an $80 billion budget over the next two years.
In it, about $8 billion in education cuts, a figure unpopular among educators in El Paso.
"Just the inequity of it and the damage that it will do for years to come," Lucy Clarke, the President of the El Paso Federation of Teachers, said of the proposed budget.
The proposal is by no means set in stone, however. The budget still has to be agreed upon by both the Senate and the House, and will most likely be changed along the way.
But you can just about guarantee education cuts will happen one way or another. EPISD Board President Patricia Hughes told us in a statement," With less money we have less services we can provide. It's a challenge."
Cuts proposed by EPISD currently stand at about five percent of the overall budget. That means shedding about $23 million and about 200 jobs.
Despite calling it painful, Board President Hughes said, "When your budget is 86 percent personnel, eventually you cut people. We have been very good about it so far and we are trying desperately not to do that."
"I'm not happy with them because some of the proposed cuts are going to directly impact the classroom," Lucy Clarke said in response.
The local Federation of Teachers understands cuts have to be made, but says cuts can be found in other areas within district administration.
So the budget battle in Austin continues, and when the cuts come down, the battle for how to trim costs locally heats up.
The proposed budget will now go on to the scheduling committee and it could appear before the full House as early as next week.
Local State Senator Jose Rodriguez and Representative Dee Margo will both be in El Paso this weekend to discuss the budget's effect on education.
The town hall meeting will take place at Franklin High School, from noon to two, this Saturday.