A Proposal to Pay for Public Education

A special session is planned for lawmakers in Austin next month, but there is already a new proposal to fund public education. It is designed to bring in six billion more dollars to operate Texas schools. The proposal will give homeowners and business owners a break and more importantly keep the doors of East Texas schools open,but it will come at a cost to sellers and users of tobacco products. Cigarette taxes would be raised from $.41 cents to $1.41.

Some smokers don't like the idea. "I don't think it's fair. In the long run,they won't make any money, because people are going to realized cigarettes are expensive and they are going to take the alternate route of quitting," says Mary Johnson. Johnson would not see much benefit under the proposal because she is smoker and a renter.

"I don't think it's fair to put all the taxes on tobacco, having two kids, I don't mind my property taxes going to fund public education," says Lisa Guevara. Lisa is a manager at a tobacco shop, where business is booming. "Our business would definitely drop off, but the tobacco companies would find a way to compensate, because they want to stay in business."

Representative Jim McReynolds received a copy of the proposal Wednesday afternoon. "When the cigarette tax was discussed before I got a lot of calls at my office. I do know 72% of Texans approve of the idea of that type of tax. I do know it causes problems. In New York they raised cigarette taxes by a dollar and there is a lot of smuggling going on in the state and we have about 900 miles of border with Mexico, so we may be creating problems. I don't know," says McReynolds.

Folks in East Texas do know is something needs to be done, to make sure every child gets an education.

The plan was designed by the Texas Tax Reform Commission chaired by former state comptroller John Sharp. It would also use one billion dollars from the state's budget surplus to fund public schools.