The Gilmer-Aikin Act, adopted by the Texas Legislature in 1949, established a public school finance system that, for the first time, included funding from local tax bases. This revenue was to be used for local enrichment — programs and initiatives on top of the basic education funded by state revenue.
But over time, the state’s share of education funding has waned and school districts have had to use local dollars to pay for basic day-to-day operations. This has made it difficult for local communities to devote any extra resources to the educational needs of their public school students.
Even with property values and costs increasing, the amount of locally generated tax revenue that recapture-paying districts are allowed to retain is limited. Squeezed by limits on local revenue and the State’s decision to take some of those dollars out of the community, these districts often have no choice but to reduce the quality of education they offer.
Without fiscal discretion, there is no local control.
School districts need meaningful discretion to make decisions that reflect the values of their local community. Local discretion is lost, however, when a school district has to send more of its locally raised revenue away to the State through recapture, as some Texas districts are required to do.
When the State takes local property-tax dollars out of a school district, local control and local discretion suffer. Local control can only flourish when the State makes meaningful investments in public education across Texas.
Local control can only flourish when the State makes meaningful investments in public education across Texas.