The way the state distributes money to school districts is sure to be center stage when the state Legislature meets in January.
District Court Judge John Dietz ruled last week that the state’s school financing system was unconstitutional.
A coalition of school districts, including Texas City, Clear Creek, La Marque and Galveston, sued the state.
The Attorney General’s Office has said it will appeal the decision, so the lawsuit will end up at the Texas Supreme Court.
That ruling will likely come out just in time to send the state Legislature back to Austin for a special session, said State Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood.
Taylor said he was not surprised by Dietz’s ruling. The school financing system needed to be improved and updated, he said.
“A lot of the formulas are outdated,” he said. “They were set in the early 1990s.”
The Legislature will meet in January, and the two candidates for the District 23 seat agree school funding will be one of the top issues.
With the strength of the state’s economy, the state should be able to fund public education, said Susan Criss, the Democratic candidate.
“There is no need to be starving our children and our futures,” she said.
Wayne Faircloth, the Republican candidate, said solving the financing problem would require leadership and not rhetoric.
“It is not only constitutionally required, but also morally required, that the Legislature adequately fund our children’s education,” Faircloth said.
State District Court Judge John Dietz ruled that the state’s school financing system “effectively imposes a state property tax” in violation of the Texas Constitution.
Dietz also ruled that the state failed to meet its constitutional duty to “suitably provide for Texas public schools.”
He also found that the financing system was structured and funded so “that it cannot provide a constitutionally adequate education for all Texas schoolchildren.”