Published Online: May 14, 1997


Texas School Funding Bills

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The Texas legislature is considering competing finance bills that could dramatically lower property taxes and change how the state pays for its public schools. The House passed its plan last month. A bill passed last week by a select Senate tax committee was slated for consideration May 9 by the full Senate. The following is a quick look at highlights from the bills.

House version Senate bill
  • Raises the state share of school funding from 47 percent to 80 percent, and raises an additional $3.8 billion in tax revenues by closing business-tax loopholes.
  • Raises the state share of school spending from 47 percent to 53 percent, and raises $1.5 billion in new tax revenues.
  • Repeals the so-called "Robin Hood'' school funding formula that channels tax revenues from the wealthiest 10 percent of the state's districts to the remaining districts across the state.
  • Raises the threshold for consideration as a wealthy district under the current formula from $280,000 in per-pupil wealth to $330,000. The change would result in fewer districts sending tax money to other school districts under the state's "Robin Hood'' funding formula.
  • Caps the local residential-property-tax rate at 75 cents per $100 of assessed value, or 85 cents with voter approval. It also replaces local property taxes on business with a state property tax capped at $1.05 per $100 of assessed value.
  • Maintains current property tax rate caps of $1.50 per $100 of assessed value on residential and business property, although the rate may be higher for school construction bonds.
  • Requires voters to approve a state constitutional amendment to authorize new caps on residential and business property taxes.
  • Requires voters to approve a state constitutional amendment to freeze property-tax rates for taxpayers age 65 and older and to make those rates transportable to other jurisdictions within Texas.

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