Tuesday, March 12, 2019

#TXLEGE: Thoughts on House School Finance proposal....

"There is desirable treasure,
And oil in the dwelling of the wise,
But a foolish man squanders it."
Proverbs 21:20

We're still traveling.  Don't know when we're back in Austin.  We'll testify if we get back in time, but if not here are our thoughts on Huberty's school finance bill.

If we testify today, it will be "on:"

  • The process really is better this time.  Last session, the house's so-called "school finance" efforts were nothing more than an attempt to jam a thumb in the Senate's eye.  This session, the House is approaching the issue in good faith.
    • Note: This is a major change, and one that deserves recognition.
  • The school finance commission was a healthy process, and we're glad that some of the worst ideas from last session seem to have been jettisoned.
  • For the first time in recent memory, taxpayers are part of the discussion on school finance.
  • This is an astronomical amount of new spending for a miniscule amount of tax relief.
  • No matter how much the legislature wants to believe otherwise, Texans are not clamoring to throw more money (tm) at the status quo.  Texans want property tax relief.
  • That being said, school finance reform is a mechanism to deliver tax relief.
  • For the amount of money the legislature wants to spend, you could completely abolish Robin Hood AND boost spending on academic instruction by a fairly robust amount.
  • Besides the (fairly modest) amount dedicated to tax relief, all other spending decisions funded by this bill will be left to bureaucrats.
  • In a choice between completely abolishing Robin Hood and shoveling Billions to bureaucrats, it doesn't take a genius to know which Texans would prefer.
  • If completely abolishing Robin Hood isn't addressed in committee, expect to see that amendment on the floor.
  • Worst case scenario: "[INSERT LEGISLATOR'S NAME HERE]: Billions for bureaucrats, crumbs for taxpayers" is a campaign slogan that writes itself.
  • Any attempt to empower bureaucrats at the expense of the elected State Board of Education is an obvious non-starter.
Bottom Line: This bill, and this process, can still go either way.  There have been positive developments, but other signs are worrisome.  We hope, between now and sine die, that the legislature chooses more of the former and less of the latter....

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