Currently, the state of Texas is facing an issue that has given educators and lawmakers sleepless nights: school finance reforms. Again, lawmakers are looking to deliberate further on this matter in their upcoming January session.
Lawmakers and educator agree the system used to fund public schools in Texas needs an overhaul. However, for a while, legislators have clashed over the best way to solve this problem.
In fact, during their last session, legislators held a special meeting that also included experts whose role was to chart the way forward. Their findings will be released sometime this December.
In an ideal situation
Based on recent projections, public schools in Texas expect about $55.4 billion in 2019, a substantial increase compared to 2010’s allocation of $44 billion. However, funding per student will decrease by close to 6.3 percent.
That means property owners will have to cough out a little more to finance the 2019 budget. Consequently, each school’s revenue from property tax will increase by 55.5 percent, while the government will only contribute about 35 percent to fill in existing gaps.
Local legislators and school board members aren’t happy with the turn of events. They feel the government should bear most of the burden, update its share formula and get rid of recapture.
To distribute wealth equitably, districts with a substantial amount of the revenue from property tax should disburse extras back to the government. That way, the money can be given to underdeveloped schools.
Source of additional funding
Most of the discussion during the January session will revolve around the state’s source of additional funding. Some legislators support the imposition of a ceiling on government spending to eliminate the need for property tax that funds operation and maintenance of schools.
Alternatively, legislators feel there are other options that can be explored such as consumption tax or eliminating tax loopholes.
Although legislators are hell-bent on fixing this mess permanently, there are numerous obstacles along the way. For instance, a bill that would see more money going to public schools stalled in the previous session. House and Senate could not see eye to eye on issues such as vouchers and funding for kids with a preference for homeschooling or private schools.
This issue might crop up once again in 2019, but parents and schoolchildren can only hope that new legislator will sort out this mess amicably. That said, representative and senators are busy pre-filling potential bills before the January session begins and it is likely challenges might arise.
A poor amendment to the school reform bill might kill the anticipated changes, but there is room for optimism. Hopefully, positive reforms will take place because legislators made promises and taxpayers will hold them accountable.
Funding for public schools is often a challenge for the government. It certainly isn’t easy for the state of Texas, especially because legislators can’t agree on the way forward. The last few years haven’t been easy for public schools, but 2019 looks promising.