For the first time ever, HISD voters are being asked to send millions of local property tax dollars to the state of Texas under the “Robin Hood” school finance law. Under the law, the state receives local revenue from districts deemed “property-wealthy” and redistributes those funds to pay for public education — a process known as “recapture.”
HISD has been identified as “property-wealthy,” even though nearly 80 percent of its students come from low-income families. HISD’s recapture payment for the 2016-17 school year is approximately $162 million. This has already forced HISD to cut $95 million from the 2016-17 budget – $40 million from schools alone. More importantly, rising property values will cause HISD’s estimated recapture payments to grow, and the district could send more than $1 billion to the state in the coming years – unless the Texas Legislature makes changes to the school finance system when it convenes in 2017.
Local voters must decide whether to approve HISD’s $162 million payment by “purchasing attendance credits” in a measure on the Nov. 8 ballot. Here’s the ballot language the state requires:
If the measure is approved, HISD will pay $162 million next spring, and the state will redistribute this revenue to fund public education in Texas. If approved, the district will continue to make recapture payments for the foreseeable future. Voter approval will no longer be required for HISD to send an estimated $1.1 billion to the state in the coming years.
If the measure is not approved, HISD would then be subject to other measures to redistribute the district’s property wealth, such as detachment of $18 billion worth of commercial property next July. The Texas Education Agency will detach a portion of HISD’s commercial property and reassign it to other school districts in Texas, where it will be taxed at those districts’ rates. Those districts would likely impose taxes at a higher rate than HISD, which has one of the lowest property tax rates in the state. HISD would lose that revenue from the business community, and the local share would possibly increase.
Either way, the Texas Legislature in 2017 could make changes to the school finance system to avert or lessen the impact of HISD’s “Robin Hood” payment. HISD is working with other districts to encourage a legislative solution to the school finance problem when the 2017 session convenes in January.
You may voice your opinion with your HISD board member and state lawmakers by explaining how recapture impacts your home and your community.
Please share this information with your community, and thank you for your continued support of the students of HISD.
To Learn more, view the video links below: