Travis County District Court Judge John Dietz ruled the Texas public education system unconstitutional on August 28, 2014, finding that the system is inadequately funded and that it has once again evolved into a statewide property tax, as it lacks sufficient local control over property tax rates. The issue of public school finance will continue to be a dominating issue for the upcoming legislative session.
We’ll be tracking this issue as it moves through the court system on its way to the Texas Supreme Court, and in the Texas Capitol during the next legislative session in 2015, and any special sessions that may follow. Stay tuned and bookmark our website, or follows us on twitter @CSC_Texas for the most current news and resources on the issues as they develop. You’ll find multiple sources for articles and opinions on the issue of school finance in Texas and the legislative process.
Recapture, which is also commonly known as ‘Robin Hood,’ began during the 1993-94 school year, when 33 school districts were subject to wealth equalization for a total amount of $130 million. Now the number of districts subject to recapture exceeds 300 in number and collectively those districts send more than $1 billion per year to the State of Texas.
Designated as Chapter 41 districts in the Texas Education Code, these Revenue-Contributing School have added more than $17 billion to the state public education budget since 1994, with many districts giving up more than 50 percent of their locally raised tax money.
Each year, Revenue-Contributing Schools to put another $1 billion into the school finance system, which is similar to the amount provided by annual proceeds from the Texas Lottery.
The Gilmer-Aikin Act, adopted by the Texas Legislature in 1949, established a public school finance system that, for the first time, included funding from local tax bases. This revenue was to be used for local enrichment. More than 65 years ago, local control was recognized as the key for local districts to flourish. The same remains true today.
The current school finance system, however, is making it extremely difficult for local communities to devote any extra resources to the educational needs of Texas schoolchildren.
Under the statewide school finance system, Revenue-Contributing Schools have paid more than $16 billion in locally raised taxes to the state since 1993. This money is driven into the education system exclusively by local taxpayers exercising local control.
When taxpayers in Revenue-Contributing School Districts decide to spend more on their local schools, it drives significant new money to the state. Local discretion is essential to keeping the state funding system healthy. Without local control, the incentive to continue sending money to the state disappears.