Monday, January 21, 2013

Perry, Schools, and the Truth-o-Meter

At a Capitol news conference on the second day of the legislative session, Texas Governor Rick Perry made a factual claim about public school funding:
We've had public education funding growing at three times the public education enrollment. So you've had a 70 percent increase of funding from 2002 to 2012. You've had a 23 percent increase in enrollment growth. I think under any scenario over the last decade, the funding that we have seen in the state of Texas for public education has been pretty phenomenal.
Source: Texas Tribune.
Surprised? As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts." No matter what you think about the proper level of funding for public schools, we all ought to be able to agree on whether or not Texas public school funding grew three times the rate of enrollment from 2002 to 2012. Right?

After the jump, PolitiFact Texas hooks up its truth-o-meter to Rick Perry.

PolitiFact Texas judged Rick Perry's claim to be false. Perry omits two factors: inflation and the 2006 tax swap that lowered local property taxes by about $7.1 billion per year in exchange for an increase in state funding.
considering inflation and the impact of the annual tax swap ... it looks like Texas schools in 2012 fielded 25 percent less in state aid than what they fielded in 2002.
Tax swaps can easily confuse matters. It's the overall total that really matters, isn't it, not just the state legislature's contribution? Let's look at the totals, regardless where the money comes from.
Overall school expenditures, counting state, local and federal sources ... in 2004 dollars, Texas public school spending in 2002 totaled $30.1 billion. In 2012, the total was $33.3 billion -- 11 percent greater than in 2002.
Bottom line, overall spending, in inflation-adjusted dollars, has gone up 11% over the last decade whereas enrollment has gone up about 20%. Either Rick Perry is so dumb he really believes spending has gone up 3 times enrollment (in which case God help Texas), or he's lying (in which case, well, God help Texas). Either way, Rick Perry's Texas is slowly starving public education.

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