Schools to take 6-percent cuts despite wishes of protesters

William James Gerlich

Public school districts will take a 6-percent cut for the next biennium despite rallies and protests held by educators, politicians and public school officials at the Texas Capitol that demanded alternatives.

The State House of Representatives passed key legislation that will balance the 2012-2013 budget and cut $4 billion from public schools with a vote of 83-62 on Thursday. The bill will now go to conference committee, where House and Senate members will work out the final draft.

“This is the worst budget in a generation,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-San Antonio, said in a press release. “The budget passed is fiscally irresponsible, and marks a failure to invest in the future of Texas.”

The budget did not get balanced without a heated debate over funding for GLBT services at the university level. Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, proposed an amendment that prohibited universities from using state money to fund gender and sexuality centers.

After hours of debate, the amendment was withdrawn from consideration when Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, called for a point of order which essentially killed the amendment.
Tony McDonald, law student and senior vice chairman of Young Conservatives of Texas, lobbied with Christian for months to get this amendment passed. He said he is glad that at least representatives are aware now that these centers exist in universities.
McDonald said gender and sexuality centers engage in social and political advocacy on the state’s dime, something most Texans disagree with.
“Gay students are a very vulnerable group and need those types of [services], but our University has mental health organizations for that,” McDonald said.
UT’s Gender and Sexuality Center doesn’t receive any state money, relying instead on student fees and donations, according to the center.