What Dan Patrick Got Wrong about Public School Finance

At a press conference today, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick made several misleading and inaccurate statements related to public education in Texas.

Here are a few important things to keep in mind as we discuss supporting the over 5.3 million kids in Texas public schools:

  • If state leaders are really concerned about property taxes, they should increase the state’s share of public school funding. Most of the new money in the state budget for 2018-2019 that goes to the Foundation School Program comes from local property taxes.

  • Recapture or “Robin Hood” was implemented to reduce funding gaps between districts – and is working like intended. Some districts have high recapture payments due to declining state investments, and because several formula elements are outdated and underfunded. Completely eliminating recapture, without a plan to preserve equity between districts, will lead to another school finance lawsuit.
  • The reason teacher pay is low is because the state isn’t paying its fair share of school funding.
  • Almost all money earned by the Texas Lottery (after paying winners, obviously) goes to public schools through the Foundation School Program. Any proposal to use lottery revenue for current teachers is not new money; any lottery spending on retirees’ benefits will require MORE state General Revenue.
  • If you raise teacher pay, don’t add more funding for schools and cut staff at schools, then that will mean more kids crowded into classrooms.
  • Education funding over the years in Texas is not out of control. When adjusted for inflation, we are spending about the same dollar amount per student as we did in 2001. This means no new investments for technology or for additional services, even as the share of students that is economically disadvantaged continues to rise.

  • The Legislature has not kept public school funding in line with inflation. Our public schools would need $2.7 billion just to account for inflation.

Read more about how we can remodel the Texas public school funding system to use resources efficiently and to benefit students.

Chandra Villanueva joined the Center for Public Policy Priorities in 2010 and focuses on school finance and education policy ranging from early education to higher education access and success. Prior to joining the Center, Chandra was the manager of Advocacy and Public Policy with the Women’s Prison Association (WPA) in New York City. At WPA, she educated formerly incarcerated women on the legislative process and researched options for pregnant women in the criminal justice system. Chandra has also served as a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center with placements in Tucson, Arizona and Washington, DC. Chandra earned a Master of Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, and a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

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