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El Paso lawmakers talk public education priorities during 87th legislative session

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Public education funding will be one of the major issues Texas lawmakers tackle during the 2021 legislative session, which starts Tuesday.

The state faces a nearly $1 billion shortfall for the current two-year budget, which ends in August. Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar on Monday estimated lawmakers will have $112.5 available for general-purpose spending in 2022 and 2023, a 0.4% decrease from the current budget.

That worries educators. When Texas last faced a significant budget shortfall in 2011, lawmakers slashed $5.4 billion from public schools.

Education advocates want lawmakers to maintain the funding levels set in 2019 under House Bill 3, which reinvested $6.5 billion into public education, including teacher pay raises, expanded prekindergarten offerings and extra support for high-needs students.

El Paso Matters and Raise Your Hand Texas, an education advocacy group, sat down with El Paso’s legislative delegation to discuss the top education issues lawmakers may address this spring. These include the learning loss caused by the pandemic, expanding broadband access, the role of standardized tests in the state’s school accountability system and increasing charter school transparency.

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