The ways Texas public schools are funded has been debated for years with lawmakers trying to come up with ways to help them. 

Starting today, several state legislators will conduct meetings to come up with ways to fix the state’s public school finance system. 

The Texas Commission on Public School Finance is charged with developing recommendations for the Legislature on public school funding and prepare a report to deliver by the end of 2018 to Gov. Greg Abbott of those recommendations to improve the finance system. 

Created in 2017 during a special session of the 85th Texas Legislature, the 13-member commission was established to develop and make recommendations for improvements to the current public school finance system or for new methods of financing public schools, according to the Texas Education Agency. 

The commission will develop recommendations related to:

The purpose of the public school finance system and the relationship between state and local funding in that system.

The appropriate levels of taxes for local maintenance and operations, plus interest and sinking funds, necessary to implement a public school finance system that complies with the requirements under the Texas Constitution. 

Policy changes to the public school finance system necessary to adjust for student demographics and the geographic diversity in the state. 

As state Rep. DeWayne Burns, R-Cleburne, visits with residents in Johnson and Bosque counties, he said the two issues he hears about often are skyrocketing property taxes and the “broken” school finance system.

“I’m hopeful this committee will listen to Texans and come up with real solutions that ease the property tax burden and create a fair, equitable funding source for public schools,” Burns said. “The Texas Constitution tasks the state with funding education, and it is the largest expenditure in the state budget, paid for with our property taxes.”

If they are to going to achieve true property tax reform and relief, he said they must determine an alternative to property taxes.

“An income tax is not constitutional, nor is it an option I would ever support, but this committee must bring some viable funding alternatives. Likewise, the funding must be equal,” he said. “Students in Johnson and Bosque counties should receive the same public school funds as other children across Texas. 

“Our rural districts and those that don’t have the same advantages of property rich districts should be treated fairly. The funding formulas are too complicated and our rural districts and those that don’t have the same advantages of property rich districts, suffer disproportionately.”

He will be communicating regularly with members of the commission as it’s imperative, he said, that they recommend a system that corrects these problems to do what’s best for students as well as taxpayers.   

The commission was appointed by Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and by members of the Texas State Board of Education.  

For more information about the commission, visit tea.texas.gov/schoolfinancecommission.

Burns to keep eye on group’s progress 

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