TX House: Fund Schools With Surplus

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AUSTIN -- The Texas House today tentatively approved a plan to use $2.4 billion of the budget surplus to help fund public schools.

The money would help support a property tax cut as lawmakers face a June 1 court-ordered deadline to revamp the way schools are funded.

Some lawmakers support using only the budget surplus to help pay for public schools. But many see the plan that was endorsed today as a safety net in case Governor Rick Perry's proposed new expanded business tax fails.

The House approved a change to the surplus-only plan that would make future increases in property tax rates subject to wealth-sharing between rich and poor districts.

Critics had argued that the earlier version would increase the funding gap between rich and poor districts.

Perry also backs a $1-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax.