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Tax Foundation Releases Updated Texas Public School Finance Primer

- Central to Property Tax Debate, Soaring Home Values

As home and other property owners across the state drop their collective chin over soaring property values, they can’t help but wonder how that’s going to affect their property taxes. Because Texas public schools command the majority of a given property tax bill, a key step to reporting on that concern starts with understanding how schools are funded. Enter the fifth edition of “An Introduction to School Finance in Texas.”

Published by the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association’s foundation, the publication was revised in March to reflect changes state lawmakers adopted over the last two legislative sessions.

It’s helpful to anyone interested in learning about the Texas school finance system currently in place, including the formulas used to determine a school district’s total cost to educate its students, the methodology used to compress school district maintenance and operation (M&O) tax rates, and how the state and school district shares of the cost are determined.

Focus of Interim Legislative Study, Upcoming Session

State lawmakers are tasked with reviewing a laundry list of classroom issues reflecting much of the “red meat” politics statewide leaders are dishing out this election year. That work is being done through interim studies largely by members of the public education committees in the Texas House and Senate.

The funding picture and potential reductions in school property taxes are studied by the separate committees focused on state spending, and lawmakers are eyeing substantial changes on this front, too.

Their attention is focused on the $3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act funds that state lawmakers left unspent last year as a potential pool of revenue to offset property tax cuts.

They’re also exploring whether to dedicate state revenues in excess of the state spending limit to eliminate the school district M&O property tax, the biggest portion of school taxes collected.

Sneak Peek to 2023 Legislative Agenda

Newsrooms making early plans to focus their legislative reporting should take note of the full list of interim charges issued by the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor in March because these charges provide a sneak peek to what will be their priorities come January.

House Interim Charges
Senate Interim Charges

Despite dozens of run-off elections still in play and the general election months off, the fact is that most state lawmakers are already in place, and they’ve started working on the 2023 session agenda.

This is the time to dig deeper into policy matters of interest to local communities and keep them up to speed on what local lawmakers are up to in Austin.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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