Davis Calls for School Funding Settlement

Says AG Abbott is "defending the indefensible"

Wendy Davis at ACC-Rio Grande
Wendy Davis at ACC-Rio Grande
Photo by Michael King

In a brief press conference held outside the Rio Grande campus of Austin Community College, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis called on her GOP opponent, Attorney General Greg Abbott, to "move to settle" the current public school funding lawsuit. "Now is the time to end this mess," said Davis. "It's time to move forward."

Reading from a prepared statement, Davis briefly described the history of the 2011 legislative spending cuts, the lawsuit brought by a coalition of about 600 underfunded school districts, and the partial restoration of school funding by the 2013 Legislature. Federal Judge John Dietz has already declared the current state of school funding inadequate under the Texas constitution; he's reviewing the 2013 legislative decisions in anticipation of a March ruling on the revised situation.

"So here we are," said Davis, "locked in a legal battle that everyone, except General Abbott, seems to know is over. He's defending the indefensible."

On the campaign trail, Abbott has declined to comment on the lawsuit or public school funding, saying he cannot do so as counsel to the state. Davis concluded, "The simple fact is, Greg Abbott needs to stop this nonsense. He needs to stop defending the indefensible. He needs to settle this case. And, as a candidate for Governor, he needs to tell us what he'd do to improve our public schools."

Asked by reporters what such a settlement might look like, Davis said Abbott could recommend to the Legislature – in a special session if necessary – that it address the "broken" school funding formulas and respond to Dietz's ruling with the adequate funding for public schools. She said there are sufficient resources to address the problem – pointing specifically to the Rainy Day Fund – and noting that Dietz cited "$10 bilion" as working target going forward. Since the Legislature had cut more than $5 billion from schools in 2011, and restored only $3.4 billion in 2013, Davis said that much work needed to be done and it should begin with Abbott settling the suit and making recommendations to the Legislature.

In response to questions, Davis also defended her support for "open-carry" of hand guns – saying it should be a local decision, including on university campuses – and revisited Abbott's recent remark about "third-world" conditions along the Texas border. Davis said public officials need to be sensitive in speaking about border communities. "Words matter," said Davis, "and words have an impact."

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