News from Dr. Cruz: Legislative Priorities
When Austin homeowners see their school tax bills go up, they may assume the increase is reflected in our district’s budget. But under our state’s system of funding schools, higher local property taxes do not result directly in more money for local school districts—especially in Austin.
Under our state funding system—known as Robin Hood, or recapture—Austin sends more local property tax money to the state than any other school district. Last year, we sent $117 million to the state. This year, we expect to pay the state $175 million in recapture revenue.
At the top of our district’s legislative priorities for the next session of the Texas Legislature, which begins in January, is a review of our state’s system of school finance. A state district judge has declared that the current system is unconstitutional. Adjustments should be made to better reflect the needs of our student population.
Other priorities for the upcoming legislative session include:
• State funding of full-day Pre-K for all children
• A state accountability system that focuses on student academic growth and graduation rates rather than on punitive actions towards schools, school districts, teachers and students.
Our school district is governed by a locally elected nine-member Board of Trustees. They are elected to make decisions that reflect priorities and needs as a community. This session, we will seek support from the legislature for more local control of public schools.
We look forward to working with our elected officials in the coming months to make changes in state law that will benefit our staff and students.
Paul Cruz, Ph.D.