FURTHER REDUCTIONS IN STATE SUPPORT FOR PUBLIC SCHOOL FACILITIES FUNDING MEANS LOCAL TAXPAYERS WILL SHOULDER INCREASED TAX BURDEN
Estimates Show a 22 Percent Decrease in State Funding Support for Public School Facilities Alone
AUSTIN, TEXAS (Sept. 28, 2016)—The following statement regarding this week’s Texas House Public Education/House Appropriations Interim Committee Hearing should be attributed to Dr. Guy Sconzo, Executive Director of the Fast Growth School Coalition:
On the impact of the state’s lack of facilities funding in fast growth school districts:
“This week, Texas lawmakers are considering the key issues impacting our state’s public education system in preparation for the next Legislative Session. And, when it comes to facilities funding for Texas public schools, the children they serve, and local taxpayers who foot an increasing share of the bill, the news is not good.
“Over the next biennium, the state’s support for facilities funding will be reduced by 22 percent – roughly $309 million – due to local property tax value growth. For Texas’ fastest growing school districts, many of which receive little or no state funding for facilities already, such a reduction makes a bad situation downright dire.
“Because the state does not provide sufficient support for public school facilities (in a majority of fast growth districts, state support for facilities is, in fact, $0), it’s the local taxpayers who pay the price with higher tax bills and additional local bond initiatives. Meanwhile, students pay the price with overcrowded classrooms and an abundance of portable buildings.
“At the heart of the issue is the state’s continued reliance on a local property tax for a majority of the funding of our public schools. We’re hopeful that our state leaders will recognize their constitutional responsibility to improve upon funding for public schools and ensure that the basic needs of Texas public school students are met.”
On possible solutions to state facilities funding crisis:
“The state’s support for rapidly growing communities has decreased significantly in recent years and local taxpayers are disproportionately shouldering the burden. In 2000-2001, the state covered 44.6 percent of total debt service for public schools. Today, the state only covers 7.4 percent, due to local value growth. The end result is higher taxes at the local level.
“Due to local value growth, the state is expected to contribute $309 million less to EDA/IFA programs in the next biennium. A reasonable, albeit Band Aid solution, and one we hope the Texas Legislature will consider is for the state to pump the $309 million in savings back into the state’s public school facilities funding programs, instead of ‘sweeping’ the savings into other parts of the state budget.
“Not only do local taxpayers deserve budget transparency, they deserve public school funding support from the state that meets the needs of the many Texas school districts who are experiencing record-setting growth.”
# # #
Media contact for FGSC: Jennifer Harris, 512-773-7168