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Aycock: Funding education is top priority

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Posted: Saturday, July 16, 2011 12:00 pm

By Danielle Church

Killeen Daily Herald

The Texas Legislature recently adjourned with a reduced budget and still faces three big issues when it starts on the next budget.

State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, told Killeen Heights Rotary Club members and guests that those three big issues will be "school finance, school finance and school finance."

During the Rotary meeting Friday, Aycock updated his audience on the current status of the state's rainy day fund.

The 82nd legislative session recently ended in what Aycock described as "one of the world's most complicated chess games."

He highlighted items from the Legislature that included school finance, the state budget and redistricting.

Aycock focused primarily on the state's rainy day fund, officially known as the Economic Stabilization Fund.

He described the fund as the state's savings account that can be used for current budgets.

"We just had barely enough votes to use it at all," Aycock said, explaining that tapping the fund requires approval by two-thirds of legislators.

The money approved for use will help fund school districts.

"(Education) is clearly the priority of funding in the state of Texas," Aycock said. "We're short of funds in school finance."

In a slide-show presentation, a chart was shown to portray the rainy day fund's impact on the state's budget.

At the end of 2013, the estimated balance of the fund is expected to reach $9.4 billion. After $3.2 billion is used by House Bill 275 to help the state overcome the current deficit, about $6.2 billion will remain.

"The Legislature found $1,065,962,443 in savings in the current biennium through agency reductions," Aycock said.

"The Legislature pulled $3,198,661,120 from the Economic Stabilization Fund in order to meet state obligations under our current budget year."

Before concluding his presentation, Aycock addressed some emergency items that were endorsed by Gov. Rick Perry.

Items included the voter identification bill, a sonogram bill, an eminent domain bill and tort reform.

Items not passed were House Bill 12 (the sanctuary cities bill) and the Senate Joint Resolution 1 (balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution).

Contact Danielle Church at dchurch@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7567.

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