Texas School Coalition Executive Director Christy Rome provided testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III (Education) on February 27, 2023.

On behalf of the Texas School Coalition on House Bill 1, thank you for your commitment to public education expressed in the filed version of the budget. 

While Texas has much to celebrate, one thing that is not to be celebrated is that recapture will reach nearly $5 billion in the current school year, a staggering increase over earlier estimates of $3 billion, which would also be a record amount.  And recapture is expected to exceed $5 billion in the budget cycle under consideration.

Property tax relief is important—recapture would be even worse without it.  But while it appears the state is spending more on education than ever before, billions of those dollars are simply replacing local revenue — not increasing the amount of dollars going into the classroom. That’s an important perspective to maintain as schools try to pay competitive wages and maintain their workforce — and as both schools and their teachers and staff face higher prices for food, housing, materials, insurance, and other costs.

We believe the best way to put more dollars per student into every classroom across the state while reducing recapture is to increase the Basic Allotment.

In order to keep pace with the 14.5% rate of inflation named by the Comptroller since the Basic Allotment was last increased, this allotment would have to increase by $900. The total cost of this adjustment would be $13 billion for the biennium. That’s what it would take to make the dollars invested in our schools worth the same buying power they had four years ago.

Finally, I want to mention the importance of the Formula Transition Grant, which is a revenue source that was created for districts that received little or no increase from House Bill 3 in 2019. This grant provides needed revenue to 228 Texas school districts, but it is set to expire — and leave those districts with cuts — after next school year.     An increase to the Basic Allotment would help many of these districts, but not all.  And it’s important to remember that the increase would not deliver new dollars to these districts, but would just help to reduce their fiscal cliff.

In conclusion, we encourage you to make investments and policy decisions that are durable and sustainable.  Please remember the needs of our students and our teachers, and please remember the rising costs that public schools are facing.

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