School Finance System Unconstitutional

The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that the state's school finance system is unconstitutional because it results in a state-wide property tax.

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After years of battling in the Texas Legislature, the state's highest court made their ruling on the so-called Robin Hood finance system. Houston Representative Scott Hochberg is on the House Public Education Committee and says the court's ruling shows that the Robin Hood system itself is not unconstitutional.

Which means there is no room for a district to make discretionary decisions to raise local property taxes. Essentially because every district has to be at or near the cap to operate, the cap becomes a state-wide property tax. Representative Kent Grusendorff is the chairman of the Public Education Committee and says the ruling removes one of the biggest obstacles to finding a school finance solution.

The state must find a way to lower property taxes while also pumping more money into public education to the tune of between $5 billion and $10 billion per year. Legislators will have to look at a variety of revenue streams including a possible increase in the state sales tax as well as changes to the business tax. Hochberg says they were close to a solution during the last special session.

The court is giving the legislature until June 1st to fix the system. Governor Rick Perry says he will call another special session to address the issue in time to meet that deadline.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...