Hegar projects $26.95 billion surplus
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar revised the Certification Revenue Estimate (CRE) today, increasing his previous November estimate of funds available by $13.75 billion for a total of an almost $27 billion surplus. This expected surplus is due to some decreased spending, but primarily due to a robust Texas economy and tax revenue that far exceeds previous projections. Contributing to this state surplus is a $1.97 billion reduction in Foundation School Program (FSP) funding, as a larger share of the burden is borne by local property taxpayers rather than the state.

Interestingly enough, the Comptroller projects a reduction in recapture for FY 23. His revised estimate shows that recapture will fall below $3 billion again in FY 23--to $2.79 billion. This number stands in direct conflict with the figures produced by the Texas Education Agency, which estimates that recapture will reach $3.3 billion in FY 23 (and we believe it will likely be even higher than that). We do not know why the Comptroller chose to use a number that is less than TEA's and less than the figures used in his previous estimates. We are struggling to make logical sense of how that number plays out given the steady increase in property tax revenue highlighted in this revised estimate. We will be working with state officials in the coming days as we try to get answers.

In light of the $27 billion surplus announced today, the Texas School Coalition issued a press statement to provide some context about the money the state has available (in part paid for by a reduction in state funding for schools) while serious needs and funding shortfalls exist in schools struggling to keep pace with inflation and pay record-high recapture. Please take a look at the statement here and feel free to share it with any local media outlets in your district.

Priorities for the 88th Legislative Session
Last month, many of you contributed your time, attention, and expertise to letting us know your greatest challenges and hopes for meaningful change in the future. From that work, the Coalition's Board has adopted our priorities for the upcoming session in 2023.

  • 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 (or you can look at PDF document if you prefer). 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.

Believe it or not, the 88th Regular Session kicks off in less than 180 days.
Committee/Commission/Task Force Activities
Here is latest information on legislative committees, commissions and a task force that we are tracking.

The Senate Finance Committee met on July 11 & July 12. On July 11, the Committee heard testimony regarding federal COVID-19 relief funds as well as an update on the Texas economy from Comptroller Glenn Hegar. As echoed in his revised revenue estimate, Hegar told the Committee the Texas economy is strong and that strength is expected to continue. On the topic of federal funds, Corey Green testified on behalf of TEA and told committee members that 68% of the federal funds for schools remain unspent. He testified that TEA is collecting data on how funds are being spent and that the largest category reported to date is "other." Additional popular spending categories include additional services for students, additional teachers, and pay increases for staff. Green expressed concern about the one-time nature of the funding and the funding cliff it creates. Schools reported spending 28% of the funds on items that are recurring expenditures, 30% on one-time only expenditures and the remaining reported that it was unknown if the spending was one-time only or would continue. Green told the committee that student performance data would be used to judge the decisions made by districts in regards the effective use of funds. Committee Chair Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) requested information "on how much districts have and how much they are 'sitting on' next session."

The House Appropriations Committee met on Tuesday, July 12 to take up eight different topics, including an update on the Texas Economy and Mental Health & School Safety. Comptroller Glenn Hegar again reported the exceptional strength of the Texas economy and explained that due to the large surplus of funds, the spending limit that will matter during the 88th Legislative Session will be the spending limit tied to population and growth of inflation rather than funds available. There will be more funds available than that spending limit will likely allow the state to spend. The Committee heard testimony from the Legislative Budget Board in regards to the School Safety Allotment, which provides $9.72 per ADA in funding for spending related to school safety, with a minimum of $25,000 for small districts. LBB testified that only $85 million of the $100 million appropriated for that purpose this year has been spent. Since this funding is automatically dispersed, this is a product of the formula, not the actions of school districts.

On Monday, July 25, the Committee will hear testimony on school finance legislation (HB 3 from the 86th and HB 1525 from the 87th), as well as the implementation of accelerated instruction requirement (HB 4545), school district governance (SB 1365), and supplemental special education services (SB 1716). Additionally, they will take up the topics of learning loss due to the pandemic, and chronic absenteeism. Notice of July 25 hearing.

On Tuesday, July 26, the Committee will hear testimony on parents having a meaningful role in their child's education, partnerships between K-12, higher education, and employers, as well as state policy on curriculum and instructional materials used in public schools. Notice of July 26 hearing.

On Tuesday, August 9, the Committee will hear testimony on assessments and accountability. Notice of August 9 hearing.

This Commission met on June 27 and took up the issues of rural schools, specialty schools, early childhood intervention services, and the role of non-profit organizations. You can see the agenda and also presentation materials from that meeting online. The Commission previously announced plans to meet again on July 25 and August 22.

The Commission met on June 29, but TEA staff has not yet posted the materials from that hearing. The Commission's next two meetings are scheduled for July 27 and August 23.

The Senate Education Committee does not have any hearings scheduled at this time.

The Task Force met on June 2 and broke into four workgroups: Educator Preparation, Strategic Staffing Models, Compensation Models, and Teacher Experience. The next meeting date has not yet been announced. TEA posted a summary update June 30.
Membership Matters
It's that time of year again when Coalition members are asked to renew membership for the next school year. We hope that you will continue being a part of the important work that brings us all together. Coalition dues are based upon district enrollment, and unlike the way inflation has impacted the price of everything else, our dues remain unchanged since the organization was founded 25 years ago.

Additionally, districts are obligated to report the portion of dues paid to the Coalition (as well as other organizations) related to "directly or indirectly influencing or attempting to influence the outcome of legislation or administrative action, as those items are defined in Section 305.002, Government Code." The portion of expenditures that meet this definition paid for by district dues looks to be less in FY 22 than once projected now that expenditures are more actual than projected. Actual expenditures were 2.7% of dues in FY 22 and projected expenditures in FY23 are expected to be 3.6% of dues paid. We will be providing these details along with invoices, but for those who would like to access them now, you can find that information, broken down by each dues category, here.

Please let us know if you have any questions about any of this information.
Thank you to our annual sponsors!
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