Capitol Update: School Funding
This year marks the centennial celebration of Flag Day, which takes place every year on June 14th. Flag Day was established by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and the day is designed to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the United States flag by the Second Continental Congress in 1777. Interestingly, the day also marks the birthday of the United States Army, which was created on June 14th, 1775. With that in mind, here’s the latest from your State Capitol…
Update on School Funding
As you may know, on May 13th, the Texas Supreme Court made a decision in the most recent court case regarding public school funding. There were a number of specific issues at stake, but in summary the Supreme Court held that the system was constitutional, but needed changes, saying it was “undeniably imperfect, with immense room for improvement.”
In response to this ruling, the Texas House has committed to working to improve our school funding system for our children, with House Speaker Joe Straus recently releasing two new interim charges calling the House Public Education committee and the House Appropriations committee, on which I serve, to further investigate ways to improve our schools. Specifically, we will be studying the impacts of Additional State Aid for Tax Relief, or ASATR, which is a hold harmless instituted more than 10 years ago for certain school districts. We will also be looking at the use of local property taxes to fund public education and its effect on educational quality and taxpayers. The Committees will make recommendations to reverse the increasing reliance on recapture payments to fund schools statewide.
I look forward to working on this issue, which is one of the most important facing the state. We will be working to find an equitable solution for all schools, especially those in rural Texas which don’t always have the same resources available as some urban and suburban districts.
House Interim Charges: House Committee on Energy Resources
The House Committee on Energy Resources is a critically important committee for the Texas economy, as it oversees the oil and gas industry, as well as the Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates the oil and gas sector. The committee will begin the interim by studying the impacts of declining oil prices on the local communities most dependent on oil and gas activity, including impacts on supporting industries. They will then recommend strategies for sustained economic development and workforce growth during times of depressed energy prices.
The committee will then work to determine if there are sufficient safety standards in place to protect groundwater contamination from disposal and injection wells, and study the enforcement policies of the Railroad Commission and consider the effectiveness of their methods as a deterrent of violation.
The mobile office will be at the Houston County Courthouse Annex from 9:00 am until 11:00 am and then at the Trinity County Courthouse from 1:30pm until 3:30 pm on June 15th. We will wrap up the month at the San Augustine County Courthouse from 9:00 am until 11:00 am on June 22nd.
As always, please do not hesitate to contact my office if we can help you in any way. My district office may be reached at (936) 634-2762 or you can call my Capitol office at (512) 463-0508.