School Finance

2017 Report on School Mandates: Cost Drivers in Public Education

Each session, TASA and TASB update the “Report on School District Mandates: Cost Drivers in Education,” a comprehensive list of state mandates placed on school districts that contribute significantly to the rising costs of public education. The document, first compiled in 2002, encompasses the majority of mandates passed since 1995 but does not contain a complete list of all mandates on Texas school districts. It includes only those Texas laws and regulations that are likely to impose significant implementation costs either collectively or by themselves.

The goal of the revised report is to assist school leaders in identifying the most significant unfunded or underfunded mandates and in calculating the cost of implementing those mandates in their districts. School officials can help legislators understand the number of unfunded or underfunded mandates imposed on school districts by quantifying the costs of existing mandates, estimating the costs of mandates proposed during subsequent legislative sessions, and continuing to dialogue with their legislative representatives. Download the 2017 report.

Related Articles

  • Senate Panel Considers Bill to Simplify School Finance Formula

    by Aliyya Swaby, The Texas Tribune Year Published: April 2017

    "The proposed formula would provide the same base per-student funding to every district, with additional money for students in four specific groups: English language learners, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students and students receiving training for technical jobs. That funding would then be multiplied by the local district's tax rate. Districts with higher property tax rates would get more money than those with lower property tax rates. This proposal would keep the state's Robin Hood system, which requires districts that collect more property tax revenue to subsidize those that collect less. It would also provide funding to help districts cover student transportation costs as needed." Read the full article.

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  • School Districts Beg Senate Panel to Keep Expiring State Aid Program

    by Aliyya Swaby, The Texas Tribune Year Published: April 2017

    "Kolkhorst said she proposed the bill to help struggling school districts, not those for which the extra money represents a "luxury." Keeping the program would cost the state $400 million over the next two years, according to the Legislative Budget Board. That money is not currently in the proposed budget the Senate voted out last month — a major barrier for passage." Read the full article.

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  • House Leader Announces $1.6B School Funding Plan

    by Aliyya Swaby, The Texas Tribune Year Published: March 2017

    "The top public education policymaker in the Texas House unveiled a $1.6 billion plan on Monday that he described as a first step to overhauling the state’s beleaguered school funding system." Read the article.

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  • Analysis: Texas Makes Do with Broken but Legal School Finance System

    by Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune Year Published: February 2017

    "Consider that: $2 billion of the money schools get from the state is money that the state gets from schools. The state’s share of public education spending has dropped over the past decade; in fact, Texas is spending about $339 per student less this year than it did in 2008, according to the Legislative Budget Board. Local spending rose $990 per student over the same period." Read the full editorial.

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  • Analysis: The State’s Declining Support for Public Education in Texas

    by Ross Ramsey, The Texas Tribune Year Published: December 2016
    “School property taxes are rising as local school costs increase, while the state gradually decreases its share of public education spending. At the same time, according to the outgoing chairman of the Texas House’s Public Education Committee, the Legislature is spending more than $2 billion a year that would have gone to public education on other programs and services in the state budget. … School boards set property taxes and get the blame for it — even when those increases are forced by the Legislature’s steadily declining financial support for public education.” Read the full article.
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  • Are Your Property Taxes Too High? Thank a Legislator.

    by R.G. Ratcliffe, Texas Montly Year Published: February 2017

    "Property taxes are collected by local school districts—but it’s the Legislature that makes the rules on how those funds are distributed. And the rules are a complex school-funding formula that has put a greater burden on property-tax payers to pay for the state’s public schools while simultaneously reducing the state’s share of the expenses." Read the full article.

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  • Kevin Brown

    Everything is Bigger in Texas – Except Public Education

    by Kevin Brown, superintendent, Alamo Heights ISD Year Published: June 2016
    "In a state as grand and glorious as ours, we like to boast about being the biggest and the best on a regular basis. Texas has a lot to brag about, but when it comes to funding our public schools, Texas should be ashamed. Regardless of how you crunch the numbers and adjust for cost of living or what year of data you use, Texas always ranks near the bottom nationally in funding." Read the full article.
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  • Public School Funding and “TAXPARENCY”

    by Taxparency Texas Year Published: 2016
    “During that same time period (2008 to 2017), the state’s share of funding public education has decreased from 44.9% to 38.4%, while the local share (primarily property taxes) has grown from 44.8% to 51.5%. So, while schools are struggling to meet the demands of an increasingly at-risk student population, pay  teachers competitive market salaries and benefits, and provide technology, facilities and programs that will benefit all students, the state has actually been reducing its share of funding public education.” Read the full article.
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  • Texas Supreme Court Rules School Funding System is Constitutional

    by Kiah Collier, The Texas Tribune Year Published: May 2016

    "The Texas Supreme Court has issued a ruling upholding the state’s public school funding system as constitutional, while also urging state lawmakers to implement 'transformational, top-to-bottom reforms that amount to more than Band-Aid on top of Band-Aid.' But without a court order directing the Legislature to fix specific provisions in the system, school groups worry that lawmakers will either do nothing or something outside the box." Read the full article.

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Related Capitol Watch Alerts

Urgent – Immediate Action Requested on HB 21 School Finance Bill
04.19.2017 — Today, the full House is debating HB 21, Chairman Dan Huberty’s school finance bill. Contact your state representative as soon as possible and urge them to vote for HB 21 and follow Chairman Huberty’s lead on all amendments.
Senate Committee on Education Hears Testimony on School Funding Bills, Votes Out 12 Bills
04.18.2017 — The Senate Committee on Education met to hear public testimony on 12 funding-related bills. Two were voted out of committee, along with 10 other bills.. Several bills on which testimony was heard are of note.
House to Consider School Finance Bill on Wednesday, April 19
04.13.2017 — The House will consider Rep. Dan Huberty’s school finance bill, HB 21, on Wednesday, April 19. 
Senate Committee on Education to Meet on Funding Bills on Tuesday, April 18
04.13.2017 — The Senate Committee on Education will meet beginning at 9 a.m., Tuesday, April 18, to hear public testimony on funding-related bills.
House Public Ed Votes Out HB 21 School Finance Bill, 7 Others and Considers 20 More, Several on Charter Schools
03.28.2017 — On Tuesday, March 28, the House Public Education Committee was scheduled to hear testimony on 20 bills. Early in the meeting, the committee voted out HB 21 on school finance, as well as seven others. Those bills will now go to the full House for consideration.
House Pub Ed Committee to Meet Again on School Finance Bill, 20 Other Bills on March 28
03.24.2017 — The House Publication Committee has another long day ahead on Tuesday, March 28, when it is scheduled to begin to meet at 8 a.m. in E2.036 of the Capitol Extension to hear testimony on 20-plus bills.
House Public Ed Hears More Testimony on HB 21 School Finance Bill, Many Other New Bills
03.14.2017 — The House Public Education Committee met today to hear testimony on a variety of bills and to hear additional testimony on HB 21, the school finance bill.
House Public Education Committee to Meet Tuesday on HB 21 School Finance Bill, Others
03.09.2017 — The House Public Education Committee will meet Tuesday, March 14, at noon or upon adjournment of the House, to hear additional testimony on HB 21, Huberty's school finance bill, and a number of other bills.
House Public Education Committee Meets on HB 21, Other School Finance Bills
03.07.2017 — The House Public Education Committee met today on HB 21 and other bills related to school finance.
Chairman Huberty Introduces HB 21 on School Finance
03.06.2017 — House Public Education Committee Chairman Dan Huberty held a press conference today to announce his filing of school finance bill HB 21.
House Public Ed Committee to Meet March 7 on School Finance Bills
03.02.2017 — The House Public Education Committee is scheduled to meet Tuesday, March 7, at 12 p.m. or upon final adjournment in room E2.036 of the Capitol extension to hear several bills related to school finance.
House Public Education Committee Hears Hours of Testimony on School Finance
03.01.2017 — The Texas House Public Education Committee met Tuesday, February 28, to hear testimony from 24 witnesses on concepts and issues related to school finance. 
School Finance Reform to be First Order of Business for House Public Ed Committee
02.24.2017 — On Tuesday during the first meeting of the Texas House Public Education Committee, new chairman Rep. Dan Huberty stated that he expects to address school finance during the committee’s next two hearings.
Senate Finance Chair Appoints School Finance Workgroup
01.23.2017 — Sen. Jane Nelson has appointed two workgroups to study pressing budget challenges this session. One of the workgroups is the School Finance Workgroup.
Senate and House File Base Budget Bills
01.17.2017 — Both the Senate and House have filed base budget bills. The Senate bill appropriates $103.6 billion, while the House bill appropriates $108.9 billion.
09.16.2016 — The House Public Education Committee will meet jointly with the House Committee on Appropriations at 9 a.m. September 28-29.

TEA Submits Budget Request, Includes Suggestions for Cuts
08.29.2016 — The Texas Education Agency has submitted its Legislative Appropriations Request for the 2018-19 biennium to the Office of the Governor and Legislative Budget Board.

Texas House Appropriations Committee to Review Non-FSP-Funded Public Education Programs
08.18.2016 — A review of the current public education programs administered by TEA but funded outside the Foundation School Program is the sole item on the agenda for a Texas House Appropriations Committee meeting August 24.
Straus Instructs Texas House Committees to Consider Additional School Funding Reforms
06.02.2016 — Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus has announced that he has given two new interim charges to the House Committee on Appropriations and the Committee on Public Education.

Texas Supreme Court Rules School Finance System Constitutional
05.13.2016 — The Texas Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in the most recent lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s school finance system.

Governor Signs Budget Bill, Vetoes 42, Including SB 313
06.22.2015 — Sunday, June 21, was Gov. Greg Abbott’s final day to sign or veto bills passed during the regular session.

Budget Bill Goes to Governor
05.29.2015 — Both chambers today passed the state budget bill that has been in negotiations for several weeks. It includes $1.5 billion for the Foundation School Program (FSP) above $2.3 billion for enrollment growth.

LBB Releases Details of Budget Conference Committee Decisions
05.21.2015 — The Legislative Budget Board has posted the state budget conference committee decisions on public education funding.

Aycock Pulls Down HB 1759, No Further Discussion This Session
05.14.2015 — After introducing HB 1759, the school finance reform bill, on the House floor today, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock postponed further discussion of his bill to July 4, 2015, effectively ending all discussion on the bill for this session.

HB 1759 School Finance Reform Bill on House Calendar for Thursday, May 14
05.13.2015 — The Texas House is scheduled to hear Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock’s HB 1759 Thursday.

URGENT: Please Ask Your State Representative to Vote YES on HB 2811 Today!
05.08.2015 — The House will vote on HB 2811 today. HB 2811 will ensure that the projected cost of proclamations do not exceed 75 percent of the IMA in each biennium. This will provide districts with more discretion on how to use the IMA.

Austin ISD Invites Texas School Districts to Stand Up for School Funding
05.04.2015 — Today Austin ISD announced that it, along with many other school districts and business leaders, will hold a press conference Wednesday, May 6, to send a unified message about the need for adequate funding for Texas public schools. All Texas districts are invited to participate.

Budget Conference Committee Members Named in Both Chambers
04.23.2015 — Both the Texas Senate and House have named the members who will serve on the conference committee that will negotiate the two chambers' differences on HB 1, the state budget bill.

House Public Ed Committee to Hear Nearly 20 Bills, including HB 1759 on School Finance, April 14
04.09.2015 — The House Public Education Committee will get an early start Tuesday, April 14, meeting at 8 a.m. to hear public testimony on nearly 20 bills, including the House’s school finance reform bill, HB 1759.

House Public Education Committee Discusses HB 1759 School Finance Bill
04.07.2015 — The House Public Education Committee met today, and Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock laid out HB 1759. He began by noting that the goal was to do what is best for Texas’ 5.2 million Texas public school students, and to also try to simplify the school finance system.

House Public Education Committee to Consider HB 1759 School Finance Reform Bill and SB 149 Graduation Bill Among Others
04.02.2015 — The Texas House Public Education Committee will meet Monday, April 6, at 1 p.m. to consider pending business, then on Tuesday, April 7, at 2 p.m. to consider bills including HB 1759 and SB 149.

Texas House Discusses School Funding Issues During Budget Talks
04.01.2015 — In a marathon meeting of the Texas House of Representatives Tuesday that lasted into Wednesday morning, the House considered more than 350 amendments to its budget bill, HB 1.
Texas House of Representatives to Debate School Funding and Vouchers
03.31.2015 — Today at noon, the Texas House of Representatives will begin debating more than 350 amendments to HB 1, the Appropriations Act. Included in the amendments are several relating to school funding and vouchers.
House Public Education Committee to Consider Bills on Testing, Funding, and More
03.19.2015 — The Texas House Public Education Committee will meet at 2 p.m., or upon final adjournment of the House, on Tuesday, March 24, to hear testimony on a number of bills, including HB 742, which would eliminate the fourth- and seventh-grade writing and eighth-grade social studies STAAR tests, as well as the the U.S. History EOC exam.

Both House and Senate Discuss Public Ed Funding February 9-11
02.11.2015 — The Texas Senate Finance Committee and House Appropriations Committee heard recommendations on public education and TRS funding from the Legislative Budget Board and TEA in meetings Monday-Wednesday this week.

Senate Finance Committee Meets Feb. 9 on Education Funding
02.03.2015 — The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to begin hearing testimony on the state budget related to education funding on Feb. 9 at 11 a.m. and on TRS on Feb. 11 at 9 a.m.

Comptroller Hegar Announces Biennial Revenue Estimate
01.13.2015 — Comptroller Glen Hegar laid out his revenue estimate for the upcoming 2016-17 biennium. Hegar noted that the state will have $113 billion in available revenue, which is $9.7 billion more than the previous biennium. He noted that the projections are based on a moderate expanding state economy, tempered with the uncertainty around oil prices and a slowing global economy.

Chairman Aycock Files School Finance Bill
01.13.2015 — House Public Education chairman Jimmie Don Aycock filed HB 654 today, which would make major changes to the current school finance system. HB 654 would create School Finance Districts (SFD), which would force consolidation of districts for tax purposes only.

TEA Presents Legislative Appropriations Request to the LBB on September 9
09.08.2014 — Every August before the Texas Legislature meets, state agencies are required to submit to the Governor's Office and Legislative Budget Board (LBB) a Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) for the next biennium. TEA's entire LAR for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 is posted here. The request includes base budget items, as well as exceptional items (those that require new money beyond the base budget).

Judge Dietz Again Rules Texas School Finance System Unconstitutional
08.29.2014 — In a 21-page Final Judgment, State District Judge John Dietz declared the Texas school finance system "constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable, and financially inefficient" and ordered that further funding stop "under the system until the constitutional infirmities are corrected."

Texas Education Agency to Undergo Zero-Based Budget Review
08.26.2014 — Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, has instructed the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) to include the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in a zero-based budgeting pilot program for the upcoming session. The review will focus on administrative functions, grants and programs but will not include the Foundation School Program.

Senate Finance Committee to Discuss State Budget Issues
08.11.2014 — The Senate Finance Committee will meet at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12 to review budget issues.

Texas Comptroller Releases Report, Database on Public School Construction Costs
07.01.2014 — The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts issued a report on public school construction costs that looks at construction cost data from 2007 through 2013 and includes a searchable database and interactive maps to compare school district's construction costs with others around the state.

Tracking the Education Dollar in Texas Public Schools
05.22.2014 — According to the newest version of the document "Tracking the Education Dollar in Texas Public Schools," public education remains a labor-intensive operation, with salaries and benefits accounting for 80 percent of basic educational costs.

House Appropriations Approves $500 Million More for Schools; Senate Announces Budget Conferees
04.19.2013 — The House Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to send a supplemental budget bill to the House that includes $500 million more for public schools. House Bill 1025 (Pitts) will bring the total cost of the state's biennial budget to $874.9 million if it passes.

Senate Panel Approves Additional Funding for Public Schools
03.01.2013 — The Senate Finance Committee on Thursday voted to add $1.5 billion in additional funding to the proposed $35.1 billion general budget for public education, including $40 million for pre-kindergarten programs, $20 million for the Virtual School Network and $4 million to support the Teach for America program.

Dietz Declares School Finance System Unconstitutional: Ruling and Comments
02.05.2013 — Judge Dietz ruled from the bench yesterday that the current school finance system is unconstitutional. Dietz declared the system inadequate, inequitable and constitutes a state property tax. Judge Dietz declined to rule on the constitutional issues raised by TREE and charter schools. An appeal to the Texas Supreme Court is expected.

Judge Dietz Rules School Finance System Unconstitutional
02.04.2013 — Judge Dietz ruled from the bench this afternoon that the current school finance system is unconstitutional. Declares the system inadequate, inequitable and is a state property tax.

Senate Finance Committee Schedules Meetings on Education Budget
01.22.2013 — The newly formed Senate Finance Committee didn't waste any time and has already scheduled its first public hearing for Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 9 a.m. to begin discussing Article III (public education) of the budget bill.
Both Chambers File Budget Bills; House Zeroes Out Testing
01.16.2013 — Both the Senate and the House filed their budget bills late Tuesday as promised. Both budgets allow for enrollment growth in public schools at current funding levels and both promise to reverse the deferral of school district payments and return tax collections to their normal timing.
Comptroller Releases Revenue Estimate
01.08.2013 — Comptroller Susan Combs released the biennial revenue estimate for 2014-15 today, indicating that the state will have $101.4 billion available for the next budget cycle.