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Funding The Future Essay

1993 words - 8 pages

Victor IlogEnglish 130105/05/04Lawrence Welsh10 a.m. MWFEssay #4 Final DraftFunding the Future Since the demise of Robin Hood, the Texas public school funding program where monies are funneled from tax rich districts to those that are tax poor, everyone from politicians and business leaders to educators and parents have questioned how we will overcome next year's 1.65 billion dollar budget shortfall. At the heart of the debate is the issue of equity standards set forth by the Texas Supreme Court in its 1995 Edgewood IV ruling. In that decision, the Court ruled that the provisions laid out in Senate Bill 7, passed in 1993, are constitutional and must be upheld by the Texas legislature. ...view middle of the document...

To fully appreciate the daunting challenge of equitable funding for all 1,037 school districts statewide, we must first analyze the sources and distribution of funds derived from existing systems. There are currently three sources of tax revenue that are used for public school funding which include property tax revenue, sales tax revenue and state lottery revenue. The overriding problem of the existing tax system is that it is tapped out. Most districts have reached the $1.50 per $100 of valuation cap, mandated by law, on local property taxes. Those districts that have not reached the cap, soon will. Inflation, rising student populations, and in particular, the additional cost of meeting the newly mandated Texas Assessment of Knowledge requirements, have all contributed to the escalating cost of public education. These expenditures are estimated to raise the per student cost of education from $7,088 per student to $11,100 over the next three years.2 The tax limitation equates to a situation where districts are not able to respond to rising costs of education at the local level.While raising the $1.50 cap is possible, most people agree that school property taxes unduly burden property owners because they already carry the lion's share of funding costs. In 1980, the state funded more than fifty percent of school costs while local property owners funded less than fifty percent. Today, property owners pay moreIlog 3than sixty percent while the state pays less than forty percent of the costs. Understandably, the public is demanding relief from this tax burden and is looking for the state to step up and accept its responsibility for funding most of school costs. When the bill to enact the Texas State Lottery was proposed to the public, it was touted as a way to fund our schools into the next millennium. Revenue generated from ticket sales represents two percent, or $880 million, of the total $31 billion, not including bond or federal dollars, needed for public school funding. Seventy cents of every dollar spent on the lottery go to pay for cash awards, retailer awards and administrative costs.3 At controversy is the use of unclaimed prize money, estimated at three million annually, on state programs other than education such as health care and medical education. While worthy causes, these funds need to be funneled to the program the lottery was enacted to support, public education. Fortunately, there are two specific and sustainable ways to overcome the 5 billion dollar budget shortfall (over the next three years) while maintaining equity standards across the state. The first is to recognize the sovereignty of the three Indian tribes within Texas and re-institute legalized gaming on their reservations. In exchange for a constitutional amendment legalizing gaming, the tribes would concede to a tax on all revenues generated. The second is to increase cigarette and tobacco taxes by one dollar per pack. In 2002, the Texas...

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