Dr. Muri Testifies Before House Public Education Committee

The Texas House Public Education Committee heard more than six hours of testimony Tuesday, Feb. 28, including from SBISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri. Chaired by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-127), the committee heard from a variety of districts, charter schools, school organizations, government agencies, interest groups and policy firms to help guide it while writing school finance legislation.

Watch the hearing HEREDr. Muri’s testimony begins around the 3:11:00 mark.

Dr. Muri, in the afternoon’s fourth panel, represented SBISD as a property-wealthy district. Dr. Muri described district demographics -- 56 percent disadvantaged and about a third English Language Learners (ELL) and noted that, according to TEA numbers, SBISD’s recapture – Robin Hood – obligation has grown 719 percent since 2008. He also pointed out that SBISD is the 36th largest district in the state but pays makes the sixth highest recapture payment. 

He told the committee that it’s very difficult to raise tax dollars when taxpayers realize that nearly half of the increase will go to recapture. He also told the committee that because of escalating recapture, SBISD budgets are staying flat in spite of the increased tax revenue and the district continues to fall behind in teacher salaries, creating a significant disadvantage in the competitive Houston-area market.

SBISD will send $53 million – 17 percent of operating revenue – to the state in recapture this year and an estimated $80 million – 24 percent – next year. The number is estimated at more than $110 million in 2019. Over the five-year period between 2015 and 2019, SBISD will send $265 million to the state in recapture.

Dr. Muri implored the committee to address recapture this session. He asked that the district's commitment to full-day preK be recognized and funded. He asked that transportation funding be restored. He asked that the recapture formula recognize districts like SBISD that offer the full 20 percent local homestead exemption. And he asked for more "golden pennies" -- tax effort that's not subject to recapture. 

Huberty made clear at the outset of testimony that the committee wasn’t there to hear comment on any particular bill, filed or unfiled, but to gather information.

Representatives from the Texas Education Agency and the Legislative Budget Board first outlined what the state constitution and current law mandates, then talked about the seemingly endless legal challenges to the school finance system. That panel was followed by five others made up of superintendents and representatives of school organizations, interest groups and policy firms.


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