By RAMIT PLUSHNICK-MASTI, ASSOCIATED PRESS
(AP) PASADENA, Texas -- Three commissioners appointed by Gov. Rick Perry may grant some of the nation's largest refineries a tax refund of more than $135 million - money Texas' cash-strapped schools and other local governments have been counting on to help pay teachers and provide other public services.
The property tax refund would mean more pain for some communities after a year in which state lawmakers grappled with a $27 billion shortfall and slashed spending on public schools by more than $4 billion. Nearly half the refund would be taken from public schools, and those in cities where the refineries are based would be hurt most.
"We were already cut at the knees as it is, but more cuts? It's appalling," said Patricia Gonzales, a single mother of 13-year-old twins at Park View Intermediate School in Pasadena, a refinery town just south of Houston. Gonzales is president of the school's new parent-teacher organization, formed this summer after the state budget cuts left the school lacking everything from pencils to paper towels. (Read more...)