Texas School Coalition Will Lobby for Tax Increase

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A coalition of 43 education groups in Texas has mounted a lobbying effort to persuade Gov. William P. Clements Jr. and state lawmakers to protect school reforms by raising taxes.

The School Finance Symposium, which kicked off its lobbying campaign this month, is trying "to focus public attention on the need to continue the reform movement that has been under way for the past three years,'' according to its chairman, Will Davis. The coalition's members include local affiliates of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association and state parent-teacher organizations.

The collapse in oil prices has crippled Texas's economy and last year forced a $6-million cut in state school aid in the current biennium. Governor Clements, who has promised to veto any attempt to raise taxes, has proposed reducing school aid in the 1987-89 biennium by $200- million under its current level.

The parents' and teachers' coalition suggests that sales-tax revenues can be enhanced by eliminating several exemptions and by broadening the tax base to cover professional and personal services, such as lawyers' fees and haircuts, Mr. Davis said.

The state, which has no income tax and only limited sales, corporate, and receipt taxes, "hasn't come into the 20th century'' in terms of taxation, he added.

Shelly Haenelt, director of the state Senate's public-education committee, said most senators support "whatever measures are necessary to pay for education reform.''

Members of the state House's education and appropriations committees also support the call for higher taxes, but the overall consensus in the House is uncertain, said Craig Bryant, staff director of the House education panel.

The Governor believes, however, that the state does not have "to throw money at [education] reforms to make them work,'' according to Jay Rosser, a spokesman for Mr. Clements.

According to Mr. Rosser, the Governor's budget proposal would earmark 51 percent of his entire biennial budget--about $36.9 billion--to precollegiate and postsecondary education, the same percentage as in the current biennium.--A.P.

Vol. 06, Issue 31

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