Texas School Funding Ruled Unconstitutional

Published 08/28 2014 02:33PM

Updated 08/29 2014 12:20PM

Image from public domain
Image from public domain
AUSTIN, TX -- A State District Judge ruled Thursday that the Texas school finance system is unconstitutional. More than 600 school districts including the Lubbock ISD had sued the state over the issue of funding.

Attorney General Greg Abbott said previously that if Texas lost the lawsuit he would appeal.

“The school finance system is financially inefficient because all Texas students do not have substantially equal access to the educational funds necessary to accomplish a general diffusion of knowledge,” wrote State District Court Judge John Dietz.

Dietz also ruled, “The court enjoins further funding under the system until the constitutional infirmities are corrected.”

The judge ruled that some districts are now levying the maximum property tax allowed under state law, and it creates something akin to a statewide ad valorem tax. Such a tax is forbidden by the Texas Constitution the judge said.

“The evidence clearly establishes that local districts do not have meaningful discretion in the levy, assessment, and disbursement of property taxes,” the judge wrote. “Therefore, the Texas school finance system imposes an unconstitutional state property tax.”

The judge further ruled that Texas children most be afforded equal opportunity to educational funds. He wrote that the system is inadequate and unsuitable.

Lubbock ISD spokeswoman Nancy Sharp issued the following statement following the ruling:

Lubbock ISD is one of more than 600 school districts across Texas that entered into the lawsuit against the State of Texas. We joined the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition lawsuit because we believe the school finance system in Texas is inadequate and unconstitutional. We anticipated Judge Dietz would rule in favor of Texas school children, and we are pleased that the Court issued that ruling today. This case is far from over, with an appeal to the Texas Supreme Court anticipated. We believe the pressure of the lawsuit was a factor in the Legislature restoring some of our funding last session, and we will continue to work with our legislative delegation to create more equity in the school finance system.

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