Whether state lawmakers this session get around to doing anything about the absurdly inequitable school financing system is unlikely. Some lawmakers early on made it clear they had better things to do. The general consensus was that fixing school financing was too hard and required effort and those suffering under the system would have to suffer a couple more years.

But state Rep. Wayne Faircloth deserves praise and recognition for trying to do something now to help local school districts and his constituents.

Faircloth last week introduced a bill that would reduce payments property-rich school districts must make to the state under the Robin Hood funding system.

Faircloth, a rare lawmaker who hasn’t lost his sense of duty to constituents, said:

“I know if we don’t put this in front of people and don’t get it on the radar, it’s not going to change,” Faircloth said. “In order to represent my district and do it well, we need to highlight some of the issues that negatively impact us on a consistent basis.”

We live in an age when too many lawmakers and politicians — Democrats and Republicans — tend to avoid complicated and meaningful issues to focus on button-pushing rhetoric that requires the lowest investment of political capital. It’s a time when lawmakers at all levels digress and distract or respond to arguments by never addressing the argument or by creating problems that aren’t really problems to avoid the real problem.

Faircloth’s House Bill 4087, filed last week, would cut districts’ recapture payments by 25 percent, allowing districts to use the money for their own maintenance and operations costs.

Recapture is part of state legislation created in 1993. Under the law, tax revenue for maintenance and operations from property-wealthy school districts, such as Galveston, is taken and distributed to property-poor school districts.

Texas City and Galveston ISD are both considered property-rich districts, despite large percentages of economically disadvantaged students.

When Galveston was designated property-rich in 2006, the district sent $3 million to the state as part of recapture.

This year, Galveston ISD sent about $19.5 million in recapture payments to the state.

“Ball High School needs over $5 million in repairs and we are sending millions of dollars to other schools across the state,” Faircloth said. “It makes perfect sense to take care of your own property before taking on the needs of others.”

We couldn’t agree with Faircloth more. Faircloth proved he was willing to take on a thorny subject.

Local school district officials and constituents aren’t alone in believing something is terribly wrong with the system.

The Texas Supreme Court in May ruled the way the state funds education is constitutional, but imperfect. The justices implored lawmakers to correct flaws in the system, but stopped short of ordering changes.

Faircloth’s filing, while coming late in the legislative session, was bright news for those urging finance reform.

But other Texas lawmakers have lamented there was no time this session to fix a bad system. There were more pressing things to do.

We can think of few things more pressing than fixing a system that affects millions of Texas students and taxpayers.

It might be too late this session, but Faircloth should be congratulated for trying.

• Laura Elder

Reach reporter Laura Elder at 409-683-5248 or laura.elder@galvnews.com.

(16) comments

Paula Flinn

I agree with this article. Thank you, Wayne Faircloth, for addressing this need to keep more money in our own school districts to repair the facilities here. $19 million is too much to send elsewhere when our buildings in GISD need repair and we have so many economically disadvantaged students in our district. The criteria for sending money to another district should be changed.

Gary Scoggin

Why worry about school finance when you've got bathrooms to protect! 🤷‍♂️😀

Thanks, Rep. Faircloth for sponsoring this. I hope Sen. Taylor is getting on board over on the Senate side.

Carlos Ponce

Well Gary, It's like this. In the past, which restroom a student uses depended on your birth gender. Then there were students with what was at one time called "sexual identity disorder". Principals and school staff determined what was best for those students and the rest of the student body. NO PROBLEM! But here comes Mr. Inclusive himself, President Barack Hussein Obama, decreeing that gender was in the mind. If little Gary "feels" he is male then he uses the boys' room that day. If little Gary wakes up the next day and "feels" he is "Geraldine" then "she" can use the girls' room. The next day... who knows? This led to problems. Boys wanting to see pudenda in the girl's locker room could claim they felt female that day and enter what was at one time forbidden territory. So the state legislature stepped in.
So does Gary Scroggins think women and children should NOT be protected from unwanted viewing? That's why we have "bathrooms to protect!" Just thank Obama. He's out but the idea is still out there among Progressive principals.
School finance and the bathroom bill - BOTH are important.

Paula Flinn

Women's and Girls' restrooms have stalls, Carlos. Even "other girls" do not see "girls" relieving themselves. To enforce the law, will we need a security guard standing and watching EVERY public bathroom in the schools, stores, hospitals, public buildings, etc.? Seriously?

Carlos Ponce

"Women's and Girls' restrooms have stalls, Carlos. Even 'other girls' do not see "girls" relieving themselves."
Does that you would not mind a surveillance camera being installed in the girl's restroom and or locker room since there is nothing to be seen?
Do you really want a guy not of your acquaintance in the next stall while you relieve yourself?
What if he places a camera in the opening below the stall wall to "capture the moment", sight and sound?
While most modern facilities have individual showers with shower curtains some of the older ones are "gang showers". Some girls have been known to wear swimsuits while in such showers. Watch the opening scene from "Carrie". This one has been cleaned up for television:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYJSg9i9-WI
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zyECShrGTE
"To enforce the law, will we need a security guard standing and watching EVERY public bathroom in the schools, stores, hospitals, public buildings, etc.?"
Not true, unless you want to volunteer for the job.[rolleyes]

JD Arnold

I agree, we should thank Rep. Faircloth. However, why has the GDN waited until late in the legislative session to address this important issue and what are the viewpoints of the other elected representatives in the area. Please GDN, start asking the important questions of our elected representatives in a timely fashion.

Jack Cross

I agree with the article, but I would like to add that there is a guest column in today's GDN about transparency and freedom of information. Newspapers champion filing these request to keep the public informed. They are usually something like some school board or city commissioners holding an illegal meeting or some other minor but important wrongs. However newspapers like the legislators turn a blind eye to the big issues. While we struggle over school finance and robin hood and the $30 million GISD and TCISD send out annually, we ignore that illegal immigration and delivering babies of foreign citizens are the direct results of illegal immigration and this is the reason Robing Hood was created and exists today. When you add tw million poor Hispanics to a Texas Schools, the costs increase. 52 percent of Texas School children are Hispanic and 60 percent of all Texas School children are at the poverty level. As more and more immigrants are added, these numbers and percentages increase along with costs and standards decrease. Hidden from working taxpayers are these costs, in fact public hospitals and schools can't even ask questions about legal status and they can't expect them to pay. If the borders was sealed today these numbers and cost will increase. out of all the ethnic groups in Texas Schools, the only race that is declining if the Caucasian race. I am not making this an issue, but every American citizen should know the truth and be asking, why are these numbers and costs being hidden form American citizens, after all we are paying the bills. Where is the freedom of information and transparency here?

David Smith

Thanks? Same ol song and dance.. kick the can down the road for another 2 years.. Texas City has been paying Robin Hood since the early 90s....same thing with REAL property tax reform

Jack Cross

The state of Texas are the ones driving high appraisals. CADs are an arm of the Texas Comptroller office. They Audit CADs across the state and force them to appraise at 100 percent of market value. The State wants this money for the schools. The higher the appraisal the less money the state sends to the school district and if you are a chapter 41 school district like GISD and TCISD the increase goes to Robing Hood ,not the school district. CADs serve as the bad guys to take the blame for the state mandates.

JD Arnold

Thank you Jack for your insight on this subject. I do not recall seeing any such reporting by GDN on this in any depth.

Steve Fouga

An excellent editorial! Here's what especially caught my attention, because I harp on it all the time:

"a rare lawmaker who hasn’t lost his sense of duty to constituents..."

It seems like we live in the age of elected officials who represent the political ideologies of their constituents very well, but don't do much to address their real needs. Because of its uniqueness, Galveston County is an area requiring political "champions" more than rank-and-file Republicans and Democrats.

Hurricanes, tourism, the petrochemical industry, the medical industry, ethnic diversity, economic diversity, the estuarine environment... This is a weird mixture requiring attention to both the big picture and to detail, and champions to make our cases to the legislatures, both State and Federal. To me it doesn't seem like that's what we've elected, though this effort by Mr. Faircloth is a nice start.

Jose' Boix

It is great to have Representative Faircloth develop and proposed such Bill; one which by the tone and tenure of the Legislative reality will be one that dies on the vine. The travesty of education bills and education finance reform is that it has been discussed for years and little or nothing positive has been accomplished.

So we wait basically till the end of the run of this biennial to show some action on an issue of such critical and significant importance. This column also notes how effective are Legislators have been; just consider these two quotes:

"But other Texas lawmakers have lamented there was no time this session to fix a bad system. There were more pressing things to do."

"The general consensus was that fixing school financing was too hard and required effort and those suffering under the system would have to suffer a couple more years."

Is the hallmark of an effective and visionary legislature?

Bill Sargent

Great editorial Laura! Having served as a staffer in the legislative branch your many years I find interesting and true your statement that says:
"We live in an age when too many lawmakers and politicians — Democrats and Republicans — tend to avoid complicated and meaningful issues to focus on button-pushing rhetoric that requires the lowest investment of political capital. It’s a time when lawmakers at all levels digress and distract or respond to arguments by never addressing the argument or by creating problems that aren’t really problems to avoid the real problem."
Good job Laura! I appreciate your insight.

Mike Zeller

Excellent point Bill !!!

George Croix

It's harder to get to the last scoop on the bottom of a manure pile if more keeps getting added to the pile.....
Shut up and go P quietly just like for the past multiple millenia, and make it easier to keep working the pile down....or at least less smelly.....
Our politicians will almost always go for the easier/faster/most publicity rather than the hardest, so just dumping more totally unnecesaary PC crap on the pile only hurts the overall effort...
imho...
Like being too fat and blaming DQ Blizzards for it, when there was Diet Coke available.....[smile]

Jack Cross

Who can knock this, but don't hold your breath, The state wants more money not less, Property taxes is the main funding source. The Legislators last year increased the school exemption from $15,000 to $25,000 the state promised the school districts they would make up the difference. Ha Ha, this increase costs the state $100 million a year and will grow with appraisal increases. I think there is a better chance of taking this exemption away than getting more money from Robin Hood.
Texas has nearly $700 billion in exemptions each year, Private Golf courses pay a tiny fraction of their value due to a Greenbelt exemption. Every county has their own rules for Ag exemptions and a lot of waste happens here. Some Big companies put bird houses on acreage and get huge exemptions. An exemption here locally that should have been sunset is the 1993 pollution control exemption that is costing the state about $15 billion a year and industry is trying to increase this exemption.. All Texas City plants use this. BP, now Marathon was exempting around $400 million off the top of their appraised value. This exemption was supposed to be an incentive for clean air. Today is is a gift from local taxpayers because industry doe not need an incentive the EPA and the TCEQ Texas Commission on Environmental quality makes sure industry meets these standards or they get fined big time.
Yes, it's nice to give back more Robing Hood Money, I would like to see it done away with, but the state is already in a school funding crisis and it ain't gonna happen. I just pointed
out some real places and there are more where the state can and should get more revenue.
Another huge waste are industrial appraisals. The state passed a loophole that allows big business to avoid Market Value Appraisals and the income expense approach. by using an equity clause where a propertycan be compared to another one hundreds of miles away. Once one property gets lowered, a competitor in another city gets theirs lowered, it is a contentious downward trend. shifting billions annually to homeowners and small business.
TCISD as an example could lose over $30 million dollars in revenue from just a single plant if they win their lawsuit. CADs rarely ever win and are forced to settle. if ty lose by just $1.00 they have to pay court and legal expenses. The system is rigged against them, State lawmakers know this, but these guys have the big pocket lobbyist who keep the state reps campaign chest full.

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