AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Education Agency is asking lawmakers for less money for Texas public schools because current law says local property taxes would increase to take on a larger share of the cost.
Per state law, each school district starts with $5,140 per student before a series of formulas adjusts the number for an individual district. That amount is made up of state funding through the Foundation School Program and your local property taxes.
According to TEA budget documents, they’re asking lawmakers for nearly $1.5 billion less for the foundation school program. In that same document, called their legislative appropriation request, staff projects that increases in local property taxes will cover the cost.
Staff for TEA wrote, “Property values, and the estimates of local tax collections on which they are based, shall be increased by 6.77 percent for tax year 2019 and by 6.77 percent for tax year 2020.”
“It does impact classrooms,” said Julie Cowan, AISD school board member. She says the current system stops many districts from doing new or different things.
“We want to pay our teachers more and those that touch our children more. We just don’t have those dollars to raise the salaries in AISD,” said Cowan.
State lawmakers do allow more money to go into the system for population growth. More and more kids are just going to Texas schools but most of the total money still comes from local property taxes.
A TEA spokesperson tells KXAN those numbers are just ballpark estimates. The final number will be based on your final property evaluations.
Rising property taxes have been a political hot potato while elected officials cast blame on each other over what’s driving the rise.
At the end of the day, state policy is dictated by the top three leaders of the state government, Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and Speaker of the House Joe Straus, R-San Antonio.
KXAN has reached out to all three for a comment. Only staff from Speaker Straus have returned a comment. Straus has long advocated for more state spending for public schools to decrease the amount local property taxpayers pay.
“Speaker Straus and the Texas House have repeatedly pushed to put more state dollars into public education. The Legislature needs to stop increasing the burden on local property taxpayers to meet the cost of educating Texas children,” said Straus’s communication director Jason Embry.