Local districts band together to fight state's budget cuts

January 27, 2011 10:23:23 AM PST
Local school districts are banding together for a major lobbying effort against the state's massive proposed cuts. With HISD in danger of losing more than $300 million in state funding, the district is taking the lead on a major effort to persuade lawmakers to look for cuts elsewhere. The state's budget shortfall of as much as $27 billion has now put area school districts in a budget crunch like they haven't seen since World War II. So they're now requesting people in the community, especially parents, to start lobbying on their behalf.

This morning at HISD headquarters, they held what is called a 'Legislative 101' session. They want parents and community members first to understand just how the budget shortfall will impact area school districts, meaning a lot of job cuts and program cuts.

Secondly, they want parents to learn how to start lobbying their state senators and local representatives to minimize the impact as best they can to their respective school districts. One of the first things they pointed out to a lot of people Thursday morning was how to log on to the Texas Legislature website.

"And you can find everything there. It's all there. It is one word, TexasLegislatureOnline.com," said David Thompson, HISD Budget counselor. "You can look up any bill. You can find the current status of it. You can read the bill analysis. You can see who the sponsors are."

School officials say Thursday's meeting is the first time in recent history where area school districts have consolidated to start lobbying the Texas Legislature. A lot of people in Thursday's meeting will spend the next 140 days of the 82nd Legislature tracking down their local representative.