Legislative Review

Marty DeLeon
Escamilla & Poneck

The much-publicized Texas Commission on Public School Finance recently met on January 23, 2018 to discuss the challenges and recommendations on how to fix our broken school finance system in advance of 2019’s 86th legislative session. Recall the Texas Legislature cut education pending in 2011 by $5 billion and never made the Foundation School Program whole. According to the Legislative Budget Board, the state’s share of the costs of public education has dropped to 38% in 2017 from about 45% in 2007. As a consequence, declining state spending by the state puts pressure on local school districts to raise property taxes to compensate. Justifiably property owners are complaining about the high and rising property taxes. The big question facing the Commission: if the Texas Legislature attempts to rein in rising property taxes next session, what are school districts supposed to do if the state continues to reduce its contribution and yet academic standards rise every year? TEA Commissioner Morath testified at the Commission’s hearing saying, “Teachers are the most important in-school factor impacting student outcomes.” The Commission will most likely address teacher quality and compensation. Teachers are the biggest budget driver in Texas. Teaching represents $28B per year of spending in Texas, roughly 48% of all K-12 spending. The Commission will meet several times during the Spring and is expected to report its findings to the governor and the Legislature by the end of this year.

The House Public Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee will likely schedule interim hearings to discuss public education issues, including teachers, professional development, among many topics.

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