State Comptroller Susan Combs has reported that Texas will end the current two-year budget cycle in 2015 with a $2.6 billion surplus — and her estimates usually are conservative, so the number could go higher. Meanwhile, more than two-thirds of the state’s school districts are suing the state, saying Texas underfunds public education. Should Texas part with more of its cash, devoting it to education or some other use?Texas should first consider using the surplus to replenish the rainy-day fund, seeing as how it was depleted by about $2 billion to finance Proposition 6, the plan for the state’s future water supplies.As for public education: Education in Texas is complex and many-faceted, an issue far too important to just throw money at in hopes of making it whole. The lawsuits are a good beginning toward airing the facts. Let the school districts come forward and, under oath, enumerate exactly how much money they need and what it will be used for. I think we will discover that each school district faces problems unique to that district, as well as the problems faced by all. Whatever comes out of this should be addressed because the future of our state will stand or fall on the caliber of its residents’ education. — Joel Downs, HurstSusan Combs has proven her prowess and fiscal responsibility by finding a $2.6 billion surplus, and, as you say, that amount may go even higher.Because more than two-thirds of Texas school districts are in litigation against the state, claiming Texas underfunds public education, much of this newly found revenue should go to education. Hopefully, there will be some left over to fund other legitimate programs in need of money. — Darlene Rogers, Fort WorthThe state should restore all the sporting goods sales tax money that Texans voted for and approved several years ago for our state parks but was diverted into the general fund.Texas has some of the most diverse land space in North America, and our Texas Parks & Wildlife Department seems threadbare, with facilities falling apart. Please move all the money for the past several years (with interest) to our incredibly dedicated parks department. — Gabrielle Gordon, KellerOn the verge of an 81st birthday, this correspondent remembers well the stellar highway system we used to enjoy. Having by geography the privilege of attending McLean Junior High (where Paschal High School is now), later Paschal High, under the tutelage of O.D. Wyatt and Hubert Cherry, I “made the grade” for attendance at TCU. So there was no question that the public school education that I truly enjoyed was first class.Up to now, couldn’t the powers-that-be in Austin reserve only $1.3 billion, or half the current projected surplus, for just that purpose? Then, why not use that other half to make sure that we not only have better roads and public schools, but fewer deprived unemployed adults and underfed children, all with no access to the healthcare every single human on this Earth is entitled to?The song used to go: “Texas, our Texas, all hail the mighty state!” It’s time that the words no longer stick in our throats! — Peggy Meade-Cohen, Fort WorthThe Texas school budget was drastically reduced recently because of a poor economy and cuts had to be made. The recent improvement in the state’s economy has produced this nice surplus. Consequently, our state government should at least restore the school budget to what it was before the cuts.Education is paramount to a strong economy, and therefore it’s imperative that our schools receive support commensurate with quality education.“No Child Left Behind” was a dumb and unworkable effort and a complete waste of our support. The opportunity should be there for those who want quality education and will take advantage of that opportunity.It is proven that students in this category are productive for both themselves and our society. It is always wise to invest in the future of our country and quality graduates will guarantee just that. So, let our schools flourish with our support! — Grady Fuller, Kennedale
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