AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A budget expert has told Texas' school finance trial that the sluggish economy contributed to the state Legislature's decision to cut almost $5.4 billion from public schools in 2011.
Testifying Monday was Rob Coleman, assistant director of fiscal management for the Texas Comptroller's Office. He detailed how a bad economy has created budget shortfalls.
But under cross-examination, Coleman noted that lawmakers could have avoided the cuts by pulling money from the state's Rainy Day Fund.
Coleman was the first witness after a three-week holiday break in the case before Austin-based state District Judge John Dietz.
More than 600 school districts responsible for educating three-quarters of Texas' over 5 million public-school students have sued the state over the 2011 cuts.
Texas' attorney general's office argues that funding is adequate.
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