Legislature Tackles Texas School Finance, Sen. Eltife Reacts - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/10/05-Austin

Legislature Tackles Texas School Finance, Sen. Eltife Reacts

The Texas House has approved legislation to restructure the public education system. Now, it's debating a 10 billion-dollar tax bill to help pay for it. The tax bill is the second part of a school funding overhaul, which offers a payroll tax on businesses, and adds new consumer taxes to replace a one-third cut in school property taxes.

Among the new taxes being debated: a $1 increase on a pack of cigarettes, a 3-percent tax on snacks like soft drinks and doughnuts and a 1-percentage point increase in the state sales tax.

Anything decided in the House will surely undergo changes once the senate gets hold of it. State Senator, Kevin Eltife of Tyler told us today, he has some concerns about how the House Bill will impact schools in his district.

"Up front it looks like we get more money, but long term it could be a problem. We have to really keep a close eye on the families and make sure, long term the school districts in my district, TISD and all the other ones are treated fairly and equitably and long term we don't go backwards. I'm also concerned about the teacher pay raise in House Bill 2. I'm not sure it's fully funded."

Eltife also says he cannot support any plan that includes a payroll tax.

Another East Texas lawmaker, Representative Tommy Merritt of Longview has issues with House Bill 2. Merritt voted no saying it laid unfunded mandates on the backs of schools.

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