2019 Legislative Priorities
June 21, 2018
At the May 22, 2018, regular board meeting of the Plano ISD Board of Trustees, a designated board subcommittee presented an initial draft of Plano ISD Legislative Priorities for the 86th Texas Legislative Session. The Plano ISD Legislative Priorities are derived from inclusive conversation among trustees and district administration. Additionally, in-common legislative priorities are considered upon collaboration with peer districts.
Texas State Share of Funding for K-12 Public Education
During the 85th regular and special legislative sessions in 2017, the Texas Legislature inadequately fulfilled its challenge from the Supreme Court to satisfy its constitutional duty to design a school finance system fit for our dynamic and fast-growing State’s unique characteristics. Instead, the Legislature delayed reform for another two years, only delivering mere band-aid patches and a promise to study the issues. In the current condition of the school finance system, the State places an overreliance on local property taxes, an unsustainable source of revenue, to reduce its obligation for public school funding.
Since 2008, the State’s share of funding for public education has fallen from 50% to 37%, leaving local taxpayers to compensate for a larger share of public education funding.
Fair and Balanced Funding - We support reforms to the system of K-12 public school finance to ensure the State shares equally in the constitutionally mandated provision of adequate funding, prior to the designation and transfer of funds to the Rainy Day Fund, to ensure students have access to an education that prepares them for postsecondary success.
Built-in Inflationary Factors - We support automatic bi-annual adjustment relative to the rates of inflation and population growth under the current (or any future) system of public school finance for the computation of Basic Allotment, Cost of Education Index, and Level II Enrichment. (For example, the equalized wealth level has not been updated since 2006.)
- Weights for Program Allotments - We support funding weights for special allotments, under the current (or any future) system of public school finance, that accurately reflect costs to deliver programs such as: Special Education, Career and Technical Education, Bilingual/ESL Education, Gifted and Talented Education, and Compensatory Education.
- Early Childhood Education - We support complete funding for full-day Early Childhood Programs serving students from at-risk populations. Early Childhood Programs are the most proactive programs in public education because they enable students to enter Kindergarten with the literacy, math, and social/emotional competencies needed to be successful. Plano ISD has quality programs and trained staff to address the needs of at risk children to capitalize on early brain development that establishes a child’s cognitive skills, social and emotional well-being, language, literacy skills, physical abilities and is a marker for future success in school and life resiliency.
- Privatization of Public Education - We oppose any use of public funds for vouchers, tax credits, education savings grants, portability measures, or any other transfer mechanisms to privatize public education.
- Property Tax Relief
Plano Independent School District (“ISD”) as a “Chapter 41” district has contributed more than $1.6 billion in recapture payments to the State of Texas since the 1993 inception of the funding structure. Plano ISD’s annual recapture payment has ballooned from $32 million deducted from its Maintenance & Operations (“M&O”) tax collections in 2014 to $156 million in 2018, with a projected payment of over $200 million for the 2019 school year. This redistribution of local property tax collections, attributed to taxpayer’s rising property values, benefits the State general fund by reducing its obligation to fund public education, thereby enabling the State to supplant other non-public education obligations with funds collected on property tax statements that are designated as an ISD tax.
Transparency in Tax Collections, or “Taxparency” – As outlined above, increased school tax payments have benefited the State’s general revenue fund rather than the school district’s operating budget in whose name taxes are collected. Because of these
increased local payments, local property taxpayers are left with paying a larger percent of public education funding, with few taxpayers being aware of the deceptive and recondite taxing scheme.
- We support modifications to the property tax statement to transparently distinguish the amount of annual M&O taxes paid per taxpayer that are retained by the local ISD and the amount delivered to the State in the form of recapture.
- We further support transparency with taxpayers by modifying the Property Tax Statement, Notice of Public Hearing on Tax Rate, Resolution Adopting Tax Rate, Motion to Adopt Tax Rate, and required website notifications of tax rate adopted.
Transparency in State Spending of Property Taxes - We support transparency with taxpayers by requiring the State and local entities to provide an accounting of how all property taxes collected in the name of public education are being spent by the State and local entities.
- Tax Rate Flexibility – We support school districts’ board of trustees the ability to decrease and subsequently increase the M&O tax rate to a rate not to exceed a previously-voter approved rate, if such approval was provided through a tax ratification election within a reasonable period of time from such increase. This measure will assure that public independent school districts have greater ability and incentive to provide local property tax relief. (Current law permits school districts to lower the M&O tax rate at the will of each district’s board of trustees. However, future increases of the M&O tax rate, including increases to a previously voter-approved tax rate, require a tax ratification election.)
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