Austin, Property Tax Relief Is Good, But What About School Finance Reform?

Voters could not have been clearer during the November elections that they wanted state lawmakers to make school finance reform a top priority in this session.There was such optimism going into this session. The healthy Texas economy — and the will to get something meaningful accomplished — were aligned so well when our representatives headed to Austin.But now, lawmakers are coming dangerously close to throwing that all away. If they fail to reconcile their differences to pass an effective school finance bill this session, they will let their fed-up constituents down.Most important, they will have done a real disservice to the millions of Texas public schoolchildren. Their inaction has left school districts across the state in limbo, waiting to find out exactly what funding they will receive from the state and what flexibility they’ll have to use it.And let us be the first to say that if they walk away from true reform, voters will make them pay for their broken promises next election time.From where we sit, we believe the Senate’s insistence on expensive $5,000-across-the-board raises for teachers threatens to undermine this process. We favor the version from Rep. Dan Huberty already passed in the House that provides billions more in education funding but provides flexibility to give incentives for the best teachers. And it makes good progress on addressing the flawed “recapture” system.With the clock ticking, some are already discussing the possibility of a special session. That’s not a good option since most school districts have to finalize their budgets and set their tax rates by June. The Senate should turn to the finer details of Huberty’s bill and see this thing through before the session ends in less than a month.  Continue reading...

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