Texas: The Issue Is - State Rep. Ken King discusses HB 100, education funding

Funding education remains a very hot topic in Texas, with the House and Senate budget proposals both having $7 billion for public education. 

House Bill 100, which was sent to the Senate Education committee, provides another $4.5 billion, along with several other big reforms. However, the wild card in this funding discussion remains the impasse over school vouchers, especially education savings accounts, a hybrid idea pitched by Gov Greg Abbott which would be a new budget item. 

State Rep. Ken King (R- Canadian) filed HB 100 about the key parts in the legislation and sat down with FOX 7 Austin's Rudy Koski for this edition of Texas: The Issue Is.

STATE REP. KEN KING: You know, it's got a little bit of everything. And it's, as you pointed out, is probably the crux of the bill, is the movement from average daily attendance to enrollment. But we put money in for something I've been working on for years and I'm very proud of is a fine arts allotment. You know, no kid is ever told be including my own. I can't wait to go to school for math class, you know, and fine arts or something that that keep kids interested in their education career. And so I was excited to have that. We put a math allotment in for more rigorous math classes. We put more money in CTE funding, we put more money in teachers by changing the minimum salary schedule. 

RUDY KOSKI: You built in some inflation measures.

STATE REP. KEN KING: I believe we have. You know, one of the things that that happened was transportation. We increased the transportation allotment considerably back in 2019 under House Bill 3. But you look at the cost of diesel and over the last two years, we didn't increase it enough. House Bill 100 raises the transportation allotment $0.54. And that's substantial numbers.

RUDY KOSKI: Anything to say in close? Are you worried that the Senate could wreck this in conference committee?

STATE REP. KEN KING: You know, I don't think so. I think the Senate is that while they are pushing for vouchers or education savings accounts, they have their Senate Bill 8 that's in the House right now, I really don't expect the Senate to try to wreck House Bill 100 with a voucher amendment. But, you know, we'll see in conference committee.

RUDY KOSKI: What do you say to the people who want school choice, the governor who wants his school education accounts?

STATE REP. KEN KING: Well, for me, I mean, if you look at my House district, House District 88 has 19 counties in it where I don't have a charter school, I have maybe two or three private schools, and only one or two of those go all the way through the 12th grade. You know, school choice for rural Texas is making your public education option the best it can possibly be. And then as far as school choice goes, if you're in a failing district, if you're a parent, you have a child in a failing district, you can move your child. Now, we also have expanded virtual education and given a tremendous amount of options there, I think we have school choice in spades, particularly when you talk about special education. We hear a lot of rhetoric about there being a CRT in our classrooms and pornography in our libraries and those kinds of things. And that's all under a system with accountability. What do we do? We give taxpayer money to private schools that there is no accountability. We don't get to look in their libraries. 

RUDY KOSKI: No parent should be hindered in their ability to…

STATE REP. KEN KING: Utilize that power to do everything they can. I think the argument that is being made for education savings accounts and for vouchers is strictly political because it doesn't stand up to the policy question.