In our new podcast, Point of Order, Evan Smith asks Dan Huberty, chairman of the House Public Education Committee, what it will take — and what it will cost — for state lawmakers to solve the state's most intractable problem.
Lawmakers are taking on school finance and property tax reform — gnarly policy issues that are expensive to tackle even if the state decides enough money is already being spent on public education in Texas.
The Texas Commission on Public School Finance — created last year to scrutinize the way the state funds K-12 education — finalized a report on Wednesday that includes more than 30 recommended improvements.
Changing the way public schools are funded is hard even when everyone agrees on the problem. But Texas lawmakers will first have to figure out if they're aiming to lower property taxes, increase spending on public education — or just change how the money is distributed.
A fresh update of a single budget chart shows who's paying for public education in Texas: More than half of the money comes from local property taxpayers, just over a third comes from the state, and the federal government spends about a dime of every dollar schools cost.
Early discussions about the next state budget include an old and politically hazardous debate: Property values are rising, meaning the local share of education spending will rise while the state share drops.
Texas voters aren't satisfied with the state's handling of public education and don't always agree on whether paying for it should be a state or local duty, according to the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll.
Editor's note: If you'd like an email notice whenever we publish Ross Ramsey's column, click here. The political debates of this election year will foreshadow some of the issues you'll see when the Texas Legislature meets next year, but some of the best clues — sports gambling is one example — come from the financial advisers to public sector investors.