Valley lawmaker warns of possible Texas government shutdown

Rene Oliveira

If Texas lawmakers fail to pass a budget by May 30th, one Rio Grande Valley lawmaker says the Lone Star State could be looking at the kind of shutdown the federal government was looking at just a few months ago.

Texas State Rep. Rene Oliveira (D-Brownsville) is not backing down in his efforts to fund Valley school districts.

He said schools get their funding primarily from the state and without that money, they could end up having to close shop.

"School teachers don't know today if their going to be working in August or September" said Ren Oliveira

There are currently two bills lingering in the house and senate on school finance.

One is House Bill 400, which deals with class size and teacher pay.

The other is Senate Bill 22 that would divide all the money up within all Texas schools.

This has many lawmakers at a disagreement and stalemate.

There is currently over $6 billion dollars in the rainy day fund that Oliveira says is just sitting there.

And while Texas is trying to balance out the budget by firing teachers, they are also planning on committing $25 million dollars in state funds to formula one auto racing each year for the next 10 years.

"Formula one racing isn TMt even making any money, in fact it stopped years ago" said Ren Oliveira.

"In my opinion giving so much money to a raceway is not a priority for us as educators said Estella Pineda, superintendent for point Isabel ISD.

Oliveira said there is about a 50-50 chance that an agreement will happen by summer and legislators will have to meet in summer sessions.

If an agreement can't be made within that time.

Come fall 2011, class may not be in session.

According to Texas State Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie), agreement or not, unless there is a significant change in education budgets, schools will close down in 2013.