AUSTIN, Texas -

Budget writers in the Texas Senate are backing roughly $1.4 billion in additional public education spending that would claw back some of the historic school finance cuts of 2011.

The proposed budget adopted Thursday by the Senate Finance Committee includes $40 million for prekindergarten. That would offer school districts some help after budget-slashing lawmakers two years ago eliminated a $200 million grant program for pre-K.

Republican committee Chairman Tommy Williams called the $40 million a "down payment" toward full-day prekindergarten statewide. His panel also approved a nearly $1.4 billion bump in school spending.

More than $5.4 billion was cut from public schools in 2011 as lawmakers closed a massive state budget shortfall.

Last week, the National Education Association announced that Texas' per-student spending had fallen to 49th nationwide.