State officials scramble for funds

A decade worth of battles in regular and special session state legislative sessions have yet to yield a solution for financing our Texas public schools.But now, the environment has changed.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled 7-1 that the method of funding public education amounts to a statewide property tax and is unconstitutional under state law.

The High Court has given until June 1, the end of the educational fiscal year, to either pass an amendment making statewide property tax legal or find a new means of funding public education. Should legislators fail to act by this time, schools may not open their doors in August.

In the past, attempts to pass a statewide property tax amendment have failed due to a lack of support. The situation might make it easier to garner support for such an amendment, but legislators should seize the opportunity to confront the issue instead of continuing the debate for another decade.

The majority of districts in Texas are taxing property at or near the cap amount, $1.50 each $100 of appraised value, and school funding is still seen as inadequate across the board.

Even with the so-called “Robin Hood” funding system, which takes money from rich districts and gives it to disadvantaged ones, poor schools still don’t have enough funding and rich schools are having to make up for what is taken through severe budget cuts and private funding. All the while, achievement gaps between economic classes and races have been widening.

There are many sources of revenue which could prove to be far more fair and reliable, such as a state sales tax or state income tax.

Texas remains one of the few states without an income tax, and many legislators are ardently opposed to such measures.

No matter what the method may be, Texas needs to become an example other states aspire to, not avoid.

Opinion Editor Brian Chatman for the Editorial Board