AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas Democrats urged Gov. Greg Abbott to call lawmakers back for a special legislative session Monday, citing “the urgent need to address school finance and improve funding for all of our school districts.”

Some of Texas’ largest school districts face massive budget deficits, forcing some to cut teachers and staff for next school year. Democrats blame the cash crunch on the legislature’s failure to increase per-student funding for the public school system in the last legislative session.

“We have the resources available to better fund our schools, so we should act,” State. Rep. John Rosenthal, D-Cypress, wrote in the letter.

Texas lawmakers had a record $33 billion budget surplus to allocate last year, but no money went towards increasing schools’ basic allotment – the uniform per-student funding that makes up the foundation of Texas’ school funding. Abbott tied school funding increases to his plan for state-subsidized private school tuition vouchers, which did not pass.

Abbott blamed schools’ budget deficits on local budgeting problems and an expiration of federal pandemic funding.

“You’ll be shocked to hear this, but it’s not me that’s responsible for this,” Abbott said.

In a reply to Rep. Rosenthal Monday afternoon, Abbott blamed the deficits on Democrats’ refusal to vote for a package of school funding paired with private school vouchers. He signaled he will not call another special session for this issue.

“My commitment to improving public schools is just as resolute as yours,” he wrote to Rosenthal. “To achieve our shared goal, however, it is incumbent upon you to work with your fellow Texas House members to muster the votes to get it passed—something you were unwilling to do last year.”

In the Democrats’ letter, they cite $5 billion in the budget already appropriated for public schools but left unspent, and another $18 billion left over from the surplus.

“It’s constitutionally our responsibility to provide for the schools,” Rosenthal told Nexstar. “Schools across the state having massive budget consequences. While we sit on top of one of the largest budget surpluses in Texas history. I think you can just do the math yourself.”

38 House Democrats joined Rep. Rosenthal in signing the letter.