Gov. Perry: Texas Must Continue to Lead in Education Reform
Says Comprehensive Tax Reform will Lead to Stable Funding for Schools, Continued Economic Growth
Gov. Rick Perry today said Texas' record on reforming education is the best in the nation, and that comprehensive tax reform will lead to a more reliable funding system for public schools. Perry spoke at the statewide education summit hosted by the Texas Public Education Reform Foundation.
"As a result of education reform, scores on national assessments have gone up in every age group, ethnicity and subject area," Perry said. "More high schools than ever before are offering college credit courses, more students are taking the SAT, and a record number of children are attending an institution of higher learning because we are challenging them to achieve."
Perry also said the Texas economy's strong performance is evidence that education reform is working. "One way to judge whether schools are succeeding is to look at the job climate, because one of the top factors employers consider in choosing where to expand is the presence of an educated workforce," Perry said. "To me, the fact that so many businesses are expanding in Texas is a ringing endorsement of the progress we are making in education."
Perry noted that since 2003, Texas has gained 530,000 new jobs and the Texas business climate has been called the best in the nation. The Federal Reserve recently reported that the Texas economy is running the strongest it has since 1998.
Perry said lawmakers must remember that good jobs and great schools are mutually dependent as they meet next month to consider comprehensive tax reform.
"Jobs provide the government revenue to pay for education, and education provides the workers needed to attract good jobs," Perry said. "I view the upcoming special session as an opportunity to make lasting improvements to our tax structure so that it is broader, fairer and provides a more reliable source of revenue for our schools. And it is a chance to give Texans a significant property tax cut that stands the test of time."
"It makes sense to deliver lasting property tax relief because it will make the dream of homeownership more affordable for millions of Texas families. Owning a home is not only an important part of the American dream, but research studies show that children of homeowners are more likely to do well in school and less likely to develop behavior problem," Perry said. "A lasting property tax cut will not only give more Texas families the opportunity to own their own home, it will give their children a better opportunity to succeed in the classroom and a better opportunity to succeed in life."
Perry said the education reform movement in Texas must continue to move forward, although he said legislators should start with property tax reform in the upcoming special session because the Supreme Court has ruled the current system unconstitutional.
"We must continue to push for reforms such as stronger accountability for taxpayers, higher standards that will ensure more children graduate prepared to succeed in college, and salaries that reward teachers for their hard work and provide incentives for them to do even better," Perry said. "If the speaker and lieutenant governor can bring me a school reform bill that both chambers agree on, I will gladly add it to the call once the tax issue is resolved."