2019 LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES
Reference Points for the 86th Texas Legislature
Updating the basic allotment in the school funding formula
As inflation rises and students’ educational needs increase and diversify, the cost of preparing the future workforce of Texas continues to grow. Educators must be compensated with salaries and benefits that reward them for their work with students and are competitive with the private-sector. Additional resources and funding must be available to ensure safe and secure learning environments for every Texas student. Despite these rising costs, the Basic Allotment and Equalized Wealth Level, which drive the school finance formulas and recapture, have been frozen in time for four years. In a time when more is expected from students, teachers and public education than ever before, schools cannot accomplish their mission with stagnant funding. We must also ensure no district receives less funding for increasingly distinct and special student needs.
Rebalancing the state’s responsibility to fund education with respect for taxpayers’ local investment.
Rebalancing the share of financial responsibility is the only way to ease the property tax burden on local residents while maintaining quality public education for ALL Texas students.
In 1993 when Texas enacted the “Robin Hood” law, 34 school districts paid $127 million to equalize funding among districts statewide. Now, 25 years and more than $25 billion later, 370 districts will pay $2.6 billion in recapture during the 2018-19 school year, with almost 200 more required to pay recapture if they increase their tax rates. Resident taxpayers are paying more as property values rise, but local school districts do not benefit from that investment. Rather, the state’s funding obligation for education is lessened by the increased burden for local school districts required to pay recapture.
The Impact on Eanes ISD: In 2018-19, Eanes ISD residents lost nearly twice as much to recapture ($101.7 million) than they kept ($59.5 million) for their own local schools.
Promoting local governance and transparency for taxpayers
Local governance works best when taxpayers understand how their tax dollars are used at that state and local level. Taxpayers need and deserve an accounting of how all property taxes collected in the name of public education are being spent by state and local entities. Each Texas school district has a unique set of circumstances that make it unlike any other in the state, and these distinguishing characteristics are most efficiently and effectively accommodated close to the source. With built-in checks and balances and ongoing feedback from parents and teachers, locally-elected officials are well-positioned to responsively manage and govern in the manner that best meets the needs of students and taxpayers in their communities. Because the needs of each district and community vary so dramatically, it is critical to preserve flexibility in decision-making for those best equipped to make decisions at the local level.
Keeping the funding for public schools with public schools
Public tax dollars must have public accountability and be used in a manner accessible and beneficial to all public school students in Texas. Limited public resources should support innovation and choice within the public school system – not vouchers for private schools.
Jennifer Salas, President
John Havenstrite, Vice President
Christie Bybee, Secretary
Ellen Balthazar, Trustee
Dr. Colleen Jones, Trustee
Jason Paull, Trustee
Dr. Tom Leonard, Supt of Schools