Scrap it and start over

Good to hear.

Texas needs to scrap its school funding system and start all over, Senate Education Chair Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, said Thursday, as other members of a special school finance committee agreed that the existing system is hopelessly broken.

“We need to find a better system that works for all of us,” said Shapiro, who also is co-chair of the Select Committee On Public School Finance Weights, Allotments and Adjustments.

According to committee members and experts, the system has vast inequities of more than $1,000 per student and is built on adjustments for low-income students, rural school districts, small districts, medium districts and other factors that are nearly 30 years old with little reflection of real costs.

“We need to change our system so people understand it because we don’t understand it,” said Rep. Rob Eissler, R-The Woodlands, who co-chairs the special committee.

Well, yeah. It’s nice to see legislators talking about this before the next lawsuit gets filed. The next step, as Rep. Scott Hochberg noted in the story, is to come to grips with the fact that the schools are underfunded as well. When we’re ready to deal with that, we’ll really have something. But this is still a good first step.

And when we do get around to changing this system, let’s make sure we don’t make it worse.

Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Houston, said he favors a sales tax increase to fund public education instead of property tax revenue.

“The homeowners and the commercial business owners can’t stand much more,” Patrick said, noting that all consumers would directly contribute to public education if the funding source shifts from property to sales.

Every penny increase in the state’s current 6.25 cent sales tax rate would generate $2.4 billion, he said.

What isn’t being said here is that Patrick would also cut property taxes by an equivalent amount. That would not only ensure that the schools remain perpetually underfunded, it would also give people like Dan Patrick a sizable reduction in their tax bill while imposing a significant tax increase on the vast majority of Texans. If you want Dan Patrick to raise your taxes, without doing anything to improve the schools, you should be cheering him on. If you want to see actual progress being made to fix this problem, you shouldn’t be. You should also be supporting Bill White, but I figure that goes without saying by now.

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7 Responses to Scrap it and start over

  1. Kuff,

    This is the oldest ploy in the legislative playbook – instead of actually doing something, call for yet another study. What was not said is that the current mess was the leadership’s “solution” to the problem in just 3 years ago, the result of a similar effort to “start from scratch” that lasted 3 years before the court ordered something to be done.

    We have study after taxpayer-funded study that show we underfund the schools that have the greatest challenges. The leadership keeps finding ways to send more dollars to the most well-off schools, and then complains that we are spending too much money. This committee was specifically charged with reviewing those allocations, but after not doing so for more than a year, we now hear the call to “start over”. Don’t buy it.

    Scott Hochberg

  2. Bill Kelly says:

    Please, someone argue with Scott Hochberg. Please, please? I know some folks love to argue that read this blog, can’t one of you step up and take on Rep. Hochberg?

    Bueller . . . . Bueller . . . Bueller

  3. Pingback: Eye on Williamson » Did you know Texas’ public education finance system is hopelessly broken?

  4. Ed Kless says:

    I am running as a Libertarian against Senator Shapiro in November in SD 8. I am running is a straight up race, there is no Democrat in the race.

    I believe what Texas needs is more school choice for parents. I woulds do this with more charter schools and education vouchers. We need to start subsidizing public education and stop subsidizing public schools. Attach the money to the child, this will take some of the power away from the educrats!

    Please visit my campaign site at or visit my Facebook page at If you like what you see please consider passing it on to your friends.

  5. Brad M says:

    I’m an independent, but just wanted to make an observation. Haven’t the Republicans solidly held the reins of power in this state for +12 years? So if this issue is a “cluster” who might we look to as an ineffective source of solutions?

    Time for a change? I think so. If not at least some balance in the management of our government.

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