House Committees Study Public Education Financing

The Texas House Public Education and Appropriations committees held a joint hearing on Sept. 28-29 to look at the state’s growing reliance on school property taxes for spending outside of public education. Spring Branch ISD is considered a property-wealthy district, and with its steady property value growth and increasing recapture, or Robin Hood, payments sends more and more to the state of Texas while receiving less. SBISD will send $66 million to the state in recapture this year, more than double the $30 million it sent last year. Forecasts show that payment will be $91 million next year.

Read the Texas Tribune stories:

Outgoing Lawmakers: Boost Public Ed Funding to Fix School Finance
By Kiah Collier, The Texas Tribune
Sept. 28, 2016

Texas House budget and public education leaders said Wednesday that the best way to overhaul the state’s school finance system is to increase the base amount of money it gives to each district per student.

While costly, boosting the “basic allotment” — currently $5,140 per student — would help ease systemic funding inequities among the state’s 1,200 school districts and reduce the growing number of wealthier districts that are required to send money to the state to help buoy poorer ones, according to state Reps. John Otto of Dayton and Jimmie Don Aycock of Killeen. The two Republicans, who are both retiring before the 2017 legislative session, chair the House Appropriations and Public Education committees, respectively.

The panels are meeting jointly Wednesday and Thursday to hear from various experts, organizations and the public on how to fix key provisions of the state’s complex, patchwork method of funding public schools. The assignment came from House Speaker Joe Straus in early June, weeks after a momentous Texas Supreme Court decision that upheld the system as minimally constitutional while also deeming it “undeniably imperfect” and urging lawmakers to make improvements. 

By Kiah Collier, The Texas Tribune
Sept. 28, 2016

The state’s escalating dependence on local tax dollars to fund public schools — and, at least indirectly, other government services — will be a “big focus” during a joint hearing of two House committees Wednesday and Thursday, according to the chairman of one of the panels.

“Clearly, there are points where the state is benefitting from appraisal value increases and schools aren’t,” said state Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, the outgoing chairman of the Public Education Committee. The budget-writing Appropriations Committee is the other panel meeting.

In June, House Speaker Joe Straus ordered the committees to study two key provisions of the state’s school finance system ahead of the 2017 legislative session, including the state’s “use of local property taxes to fund public education and its effects on educational quality and on Texas taxpayers.” The interim assignment came weeks after the Texas Supreme Court upheld the complex methodology as constitutional while also deeming it “byzantine” and urging state lawmakers to make improvements. LINK TO STORY >>

Read the Houston Chronicle story:

By Andrea Zelinski, Houston Chronicle
Sept. 29, 2016

AUSTIN -- Houston took center stage before state lawmakers Wednesday as they mulled whether to change laws that allow the state to take money from one cash-strapped school district and give it to another.

Forcing the high-poverty Houston Independent School District to make millions of dollars in so-called recapture payments to the state "is proof the system is broken," said Mike Lunceford, a HISD board member to a panel of state representatives.

"It's a problem that is caused by the funding mechanism in the state of Texas for public ed that we've been putting Band-Aids and bailing wire on for the last 30 years and I think we've reached a point that we're have to rethink this," he said. "There's not enough Band-Aids to go around." LINK TO STORY >>


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