Presentation on theme: "Update on School Finance Trial and 83 rd Legislative Session From the Courthouse to the Capitol."— Presentation transcript:
Update on School Finance Trial and 83 rd Legislative Session From the Courthouse to the Capitol
60% of districts are participating in litigation
Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition Plaintiffs (Equity Center): 414 districts (1.4 million students); Claims: Equity, Adequacy, and Statewide Property Tax Edgewood ISD Plaintiffs (MALDEF): 5 districts; Claims: Equity, Adequacy Fort Bend ISD Plaintiffs: 84 districts (1.8 million students); Claims: Efficiency, Adequacy, Statewide Property Tax Calhoun County ISD Plaintiffs: 88 districts (378,000 students); Claims: Adequacy, Statewide Property Tax Efficiency Interveners Charter School Interveners Who’s Who in the School Finance Trial
Trial officially began on October 22, 2012 School district plaintiffs rested their case December 5, 2012 State rested their case January 24, 2013 Closing statements and announcement of ruling on February 4, 2013 School Finance Trial – key dates
44 days, spanning 13 weeks for the trial 16 superintendents testified in the trial (Districts represented include: Humble, San Benito, Richardson, Everman, Alief, Calhoun County, La Feria, Brownwood, Abilene, Austin, Quinlan, Amarillo, Edgewood, Los Fresnos, Pflugerville, and Frisco) In addition to the superintendents, 1 Chief Financial Officer, 1 former superintendent, 2 teachers, 2 parents, 4 taxpayers, 4 trustees testified. 7 state experts offered testimony on behalf of the plaintiffs 10 national experts testified for the plaintiffs By the numbers
ARTICLE VIII, SECTION 1-e of the Texas Constitution - No State ad valorem taxes shall be levied upon any property within this State “An ad valorem tax is a state tax … when the State so completely controls the levy, assessment and disbursement of revenue, either directly or indirectly, that the authority employed is without meaningful discretion.” Local Districts must be able to provide local supplementation to fund programming beyond state requirements. Statewide Property Tax Claim
ARTICLE VII, SECTION 1 of the Texas Constitution - A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools. Supreme Court already warned of drift toward inadequacy. Since that time, we’ve seen standards increase and funding decrease. Adequacy Claim
“Constitutional efficiency under article VII, section 1 requires only that districts must have substantially equal access to funding up to the legislatively defined level that achieves the constitutional mandate of a general diffusion of knowledge. ” Two types of efficiency: Effective, productive of results, not wasteful (Qualitative Efficiency) Substantially equal access to funding for children in poor and rich districts (Financial/Quantitative Efficiency, or “Equity”) Efficiency/Equity Claim
So what? Standards have increased and funding levels have decreased. What does it cost? Is this an impending crisis or present crisis? What level funds basic program? $1.00, $1.04, or $1.17? ASATR is set to expire; will simple or weighted averages be used to determine equity?
Judge Dietz’s Ruling “There is no free lunch. We either want the increased standards and are willing to pay the price, or we don’t.” “The problems only get worse the longer we wait.”
System violates “efficiency” provisions and fails to provide substantially equal access to revenue necessary to provide general diffusion of knowledge System is not adequately funded (fails to make suitable provision) System has created a state ad valorem tax However system does not violate uniform tax provision of the Constitution. Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition
System is financially and quantitatively inefficient System fails to make suitable provision for the education of low income and English Language Learner students System lacks meaningful discretion and therefore constitutes a state ad valorem tax Edgewood ISD, et al. Plaintiffs
System is inadequate and unsuitable; not structured, operated, and funded to accomplish general diffusion of knowledge System is inefficient, inequitable, and unsuitable; arbitrarily funds districts at levels below constitutional requirements System lacks meaningful discretion and therefore constitutes a state ad valorem tax Fort Bend ISD, et al. Plaintiffs
System is inadequate and fails to provide the resources needed to provide a general diffusion of knowledge Districts must be able to finance cost of adequate education within range of district taxing authority not subject to election System prevents meaningful discretion and therefore constitutes a state ad valorem tax as districts cannot lower rates and meet state standards, nor can they raise rates as they are either legally or practically unable Calhoun County ISD, et al. Plaintiffs
Texans for Real Efficiency and Equity in Education (TREEE), et al.: Court declared issues are within the discretion of the Legislature Texas Charter Schools Association, et al.: Court declared issues within the discretion of the Legislature or not to the level rendering the entire system unconstitutional Intervenors
Estimated Timeline October 22, 2012 – School finance trial began February 4, 2013 – Trial court ruling announced March, 2013 – written ruling expected May 27, Last day 83 rd Legislative Session Fall 2013 – Appeal to Texas Supreme Court Spring 2014 – Possible Supreme Court ruling* – Response to court ruling?? * Most likely after primary election in March 2014.
The 83 rd Texas Legislative Session
State faced projected $25 billion shortfall and proposed $10 billion cut to education. Cut $5.4 billion from public education ($4 billion from formula, $1.4 billion in programs). 5.6% across-the-board reduction during Reduction to ASATR in school year, which affected certain districts far more than others First time public education funding was reduced in 60 years. Re-cap: The 82 nd Texas Legislature
Statewide leadership unchanged – short term stability Education leadership very different New Commissioner New Senate Education Chair New House Public Education Chair New Senate Finance Chair Who has changed?
Six new senators Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) Ken Paxton (R- McKinney) Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) Unknown who will replace the late Senator Mario Gallegos. Plus new leadership of Senate Education (Senator Patrick) and Senate Finance (Senator Williams) Five of the nine members of Senate Education Committee are new to the committee (Vice Chair Lucio, Campbell, Paxton, Taylor, Duncan) Who has changed? Texas Senate
Composition 102 Republicans and 48 Democrats in 2011 95 Republicans and 55 Democrats in Almost one-third of the 150 members of the House are serving for the first time. Over 50% of members are freshmen or sophomores House Committee Changes 13 of 36 Committee Chairs did not return 5 of 11 members of House Public Education Committee (including Chair and Vice Chair) did not return Will most likely mean new Chair of House Appropriations Article III Workgroup Who has changed? Texas House
Now you hear “surplus” instead of “shortfall.” Comptroller announced $8.8 billion surplus. Rainy Day Fund could reach flood stage – projected $11.8 billion balance, with a cap of $13.6 in However, TEA has not asked for additional funding for schools. What has changed?
Foundation School Program payment was delayed ($1.7 billion) and Medicaid was underfunded by $4.7 billion. Constitutional state spending limit applies to any amount spent above last biennium that exceeds 10.71% growth rate. Student enrollment continues to increase by 80,000 students per year, primarily students who are disadvantaged. What has NOT changed?
Budget bills were filed that begin where the last budget ends—with cuts firmly in place Expiration of Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR) still set to expire in Unclear if cuts will be restored and if so, how. What has NOT changed?
Amount Unknown After $2 billion is applied to offset the cost of the delayed FSP payment (which isn’t even a restoration), how much is left? Education must compete with many other state interests for funds. Distribution unknown Cuts were across-the- board in the first year and applied to ASATR in second. Will cuts be restored in the same manner they were made? Could ASATR be lost forever and a partial per-capita restoration applied? Possible Restoration of Cuts
Legislature has $101.4 billion to spend ($92.6 billion in revenue & $8.8 billion in surplus), plus $11.8 billion in Rainy Day Fund Budget bills filed in House and Senate appropriate $89.1 billion and $88.9 billion respectively. Supplemental appropriations bills to address some underfunding from last session (August 2013 FSP payment) Budget Overview
No restoration of $5.4 billion cut to public education. Enrollment growth is funded, but at the lower per WADA rate. Much of the $2.2 billion for enrollment growth “funded by the state” is made up of a $1.5 billion increase in property value growth (savings for the state, plus increase in recapture, & property values growth is expected to continue). Budget Overview
“Our base has wanted us to pass photo voter ID for years, and we did it. They've been wanting us to pass school choice for years. This is the year to do it, in my view. That issue will do more to impact the future of Texas and the quality of education than anything else we could do.” – Senator Dan Patrick Chairman, Senate Committee on Education School Choice
Tax credit up to 25% for businesses that choose to donate to scholarship program for disadvantaged students to attend private schools. Public schools could also apply for the scholarship funds to put toward pre-K and afterschool programs. Start as a pilot to prove it is effectiveness Also proposes an expansion of public school choice to include both inter-district and intra-district transfers to schools with capacity Expansion of charter schools. School Choice – Patrick proposal
Even more so than cuts to funding, voters are angry over testing and accountability. Similar to funding, there are lots of moving parts: 15% requirement Graduation requirements Number of tests How tests are used to hold schools accountable Accountability Reform
Legislators are eager to put measures in place to prevent tragedy and threats to student safety. While some support more law enforcement in schools, others continue to voice concerns about the role school resource officers play in student discipline. School Safety
Education may not be the first priority of the Legislature this session. The competition for limited state funds will take place in the shadow of one of the worst droughts in state history. WADA or Water?