Membership Meeting on Saturday
Please make plans to join us at the TASA/TASB Convention for our annual membership meeting. We will meet Saturday, September 24 at 2:15 p.m. at the Marriott Riverwalk (right across East Market Street from the Grand Hyatt and Convention Center). We will meet on the 2nd floor in the Alamo Ballroom.

This is also the meeting when we will elect officers to serve through fall 2024. As a reminder, the following slate has been nominated:

  • President - Kyle Lynch, Seminole ISD
  • Vice President - Danny Massey, Brazosport ISD
  • Secretary/Treasurer - Sharon McKinney, Port Aransas ISD

Per our by-laws, additional nominations may be submitted that carry the endorsement of 10% of the membership. Those eligible to serve as officers must be serving as superintendent of a member school district.
House Pub Ed Committee meeting today
The House Public Education Committee and House Higher Education Committee are conducting a joint hearing today to take up their joint charge on the state’s teacher workforce, including the recruitment, preparation, and retention of high-quality educators.

The hearing kicked off at 10 a.m., and it looks to be a long day with 48 witnesses providing invited testimony, followed by an untold number who will offer public testimony. You can see the agenda for the day here or watch live. This is the final interim hearing for both committees.
TEA Legislative Appropriations Request
The Texas Education Agency has released the Legislative Appropriations Request (LAR) for the 2024-25 biennium. The Agency's budget hearing will take place at 11 a.m. on Friday, September 30.

The LAR is the starting point for the appropriations process. With the exception of exceptional items, the Agency may only request appropriations according to what is called for under current law.

Exceptional Items
The exceptional items requested by TEA in the LAR total $97.6 million for the biennium, with a few items on the list serving as placeholders with dollar amounts to be determined (such as school safety). Over $55 million of the stated number is for the purpose of a Data Privacy Initiative.

Recapture numbers in this document are tied to the amounts from the General Appropriations Act as passed in 2021, and do not reflect updates from actual or updated estimate numbers. And the figures from 2021 are running about $30-40 million less than actual amounts per year. Even with that being the case, the LAR estimates an annual recapture amount of $3.4 billion in FY 25 (that's absent any legislative change in 2023).

The most important takeaway from the LAR was also a big topic of the Superintendent Call Commissioner Mike Morath conducted last week: that of enrollment and attendance trends. AND THIS IS IMPORTANT. The combination of historically declining birth rates, the pandemic, and a multitude of other policy decisions have led to all trends pointing toward a decline in public school enrollment statewide. Since school district funding entitlements are based on student attendance, this could lead to a decline in funding. In fact, the LAR shows what that would look like under current law. Based on TEA projections for both student attendance and the growth of local property values statewide (changes in state/local share of funding), the total appropriations requested for the 24-25 biennium are $2.2 billion less than 22-23. Note that this number does not include and changes to the Guaranteed Yield amounts or ongoing property tax compression.

Again, this isn't necessarily where school funding will end up. Legislators will meet and consider topics like inflation, property tax relief, the guaranteed yield amounts, the teacher workforce, and school safety, but this starting point and the data presented here are important to be aware of as we think of where it all may lead in 2023.
Property Taxes discussed by both chambers
Legislative committees from both the House and Senate have conducted hearings over the past few weeks on the topic of property taxes. The House Ways & Means Committee met on September 8 and the Senate Local Government Committee met on both September 13 and September 14.

Lawmakers on both committees heard about the property tax transparency website launched this year, and promoted through postcards mailed to every taxpayer for the price of $4 million. (We posted a video on this topic last month.) Christy Rome testified on behalf of the Coalition to praise efforts for transparency, but also point out the vital information this website lacks: information on what portion of property taxes go to the state through recapture (and alternatively how increased property tax payments reduce the state's share of funding for those not paying recapture).

The House Ways & Means Committee took up the topic of Chapter 313 economic development incentives, which are set to expire from law in December. A representative of the Texas Comptroller explained that the upcoming expiration of the law has driven a significant increase in applications. The Comptroller usually receives about 40 such applications per year, but in 2022, the office received closer to 400 applications. Due to the staff time necessary to process the applications, the Comptroller established a deadline of June 1, 2022 for applications, to allow processing by the end of the year.

Representatives from industry testified that all but five other states offer some type of economic development incentives similar to what Chapter 313 provided for Texas and expressed concern about the loss of opportunity to bring additional development to Texas over the next year. They expressed an urgency regarding the need to create a new type of incentive in 2023. Other witnesses testified against bringing any such incentives back to law, calling it corporate welfare and stating that such incentives take tax dollars away from schools.

Christy Rome testified on behalf of the Coalition asking lawmakers to ensure that school districts have a seat at the table to play a role in the economic development of their communities. Over the years, the ability for school districts to play a role in economic development has been greatly limited. Coalition Board member Dr. Rickie Harris, Superintendent of West Orange-Cove CISD, testified about the benefits to his district of Chapter 313 agreements. His district serves a student population that is largely economically disadvantaged, but through the agreements WOC CISD has found advantages to help serve those students and the community as a whole.

When the Senate Local Government Committee met on September 14, they addressed the topic of Voter-Approval Tax Rate (VATR) Elections. Committee Chair Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) recently issued a press release criticizing districts for proposing VATR Elections that seek to "wipeout state mandated M&O property tax relief". Whether you're proposing a VATR Election or bond election this year or not, you may want to take a listen to the first 15 minutes of the September 14 hearing.

Both House and Senate committees heard testimony regarding the many challenges the ever-increasing property values pose for taxpayers. They walked through the challenges of the appraisal system and also discussed the affordability issues that result from the increased values.
Communications Resources
As a reminder, we've made two communications toolkits available to assist districts that have elections on the ballot in November. You can find those via the links below:

Committee & Commission Updates
Here is the latest information on legislative committees and commissions we are tracking. 111 days remain before the 88th Legislative Session, and bill filing begins in less than two months.

The Commission is scheduled to meet again on September 28.

The Task Force has met three times now and provided an update on their work on September 15, and the Chair of that Task Force provided testimony to the two committees conducting a joint hearing in the House today.

The Commission on Special Education Funding met on September 9 and heard testimony on Day Placement and Residential Facilities.

Other than the House hearing currently underway, no future meetings are scheduled for legislative committees at this time. House Committee work is concluded for most (but not all) committees. The Senate Education Committee has quite a few interim charges that have yet to be covered. Remember that you can always check our hearing tracker to stay up-to-date on which interim charges have been heard and when.
Priorities for the 88th Legislative Session

  • Enable public schools to meet students' needs
  • Control the cost of recapture
  • Protect the sustainability of public education funding
  • Ensure public accountability of public dollars
  • Preserve local decision-making

You can take a look at the priorities on our website to get more information behind each of those statements. And if you are interested in even more details about what all of this means, we have expanded further with an itemized list of priorities under each of those headings.
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