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Newsletter: Constitutional, but flawed

The Texas Supreme Court recently ruled that our system of paying for education meets the requirements of the state Constitution. But the Court didn't exactly endorse the status quo. In fact, the Court said the way we pay for education in Texas is "undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement." The justices also stressed that it is the Legislature's job, and not that of the judicial branch, to strengthen education policy.

That's what we're going to continue working to do in the Texas House. Earlier this month, I instructed two committees to recommend ways that we can address key aspects of the state's school finance system during the next legislative session, which begins next January. School finance is one of the most complex issues facing state government, which is why it usually takes a court order for the Legislature to act. But I believe that we can reform the system to achieve two key goals: providing a better education for students, and using taxpayer dollars in a more efficient way.

One issue of particular concern to me is that more and more school districts in Texas are sending their local tax revenue back to the state through our "Robin Hood" system. To be sure, all students should have access to quality schools regardless of where they live, and some communities certainly have more resources than others. But the growth in the amount of money that school districts have to send away is troubling, and it's something that we in the Legislature need to address.

School finance affects every community of the state differently, and that can make it difficult to form a consensus at the Capitol. But I believe all Texans want quality public schools and an efficient system, and that's a pretty good place to start. In the Texas House, we will continue working to improve education for students while providing better value for taxpayers.