Ask Your State Representative

Texas Legislature on school finance reform

State Rep. Lynn Stucky

Ross Perot, in his quest for the U.S. presidency, once told the American people to follow the model of his home state.

“In plain Texas talk,” he said, “it’s ‘do the right thing’”.

With more than half of the 86th Legislature’s calendar behind us, the energy within the Capitol is reaching its plateau. For the remaining 70-or-so days, there will be a flurry of legislative activity running at the same hurried pace until May 27. On one very critical issue, public education, there is a consensus in the House that we must do the right thing and pass meaningful school finance reform.

The House is proposing a comprehensive approach in House Bill 3 that doesn’t attack one area of concern. Rather, we are digging into the funding formula and offering solutions from pre-K through graduation.

With consensus throughout the building, the Legislature could offer the following responses to any skeptic:

Yes, we are funding raises for teachers.

Yes, we are offering full-day pre-K for low-income students, with opportunities for all districts to fund full-day pre-K.

Yes, we are providing tax relief through more state funding and compression of school property tax rates.

Yes, we are doing the right thing and funding public education to the tune of $9 billion additional dollars.

An early analysis of House Bill 3 offers some confirmation that this bill is as advertised. On average, school districts in House District 64 will see a daily allotment gain of $792 per pupil; the average increase in state funding for local school districts is close to $4.1 million.

In all cases, these districts are also keeping more local tax dollars based on a statewide 38 percent reduction in recapture. Many of the school districts that were paying into Robin Hood have had their recapture payments eliminated. Those that haven’t are seeing significant reductions in their payments:

• Lewisville ISD: Reduced from $62 million to $4.4 million. That’s more than $57 million in tax dollars that will stay in the district.

• Argyle ISD: Reduced from $504,000 to $4,100.

• Slidell ISD: Reduced from $648,000 to $190,000.

The combination of reduced recapture and increased state funding is how we are able to include property tax relief. Denton ISD will receive a $12.6 million increase in state funding. Krum ISD is getting nearly $1 million in new state funding.

As a co-author of House Bill 3, I know that the Legislature is working to “do the right thing” for public education because it inherently supports local control by the school districts. If passed, the onus of H.B. 3 will fall on teachers, administrators and parents.

In plain Texas talk, we must all work together to do the right thing.

How to reach my office:

For legislative issues or information about visiting the Capitol, contact my Capitol Office: 512-463-0582; PO Box 2910 Austin, TX 78701.

For issues in Denton County, contact my District Office: 400 West Oak Street, Suite 106 Denton, TX 76201, 940-243-0230.