School lawsuit could complicate 2011 legislative session

Those of you who have lived in Texas for a while probably remember that local school districts have sued the State of Texas on more than one occasion, claiming that the state does not adequately fund education in accordance with the requirements of the Texas Constitution. The last such effort produced a 2006 ruling that required the legislature to make changes. The result was a lowering of property tax rates, increased tobacco taxes and the revised franchise tax lovingly referred to as the margin tax.

That was only four years ago, but according to an article on the Houston Chroniclewebsite authored by San Antonio Express-News writers, some are predicting that a new lawsuit is in the works, perhaps even before the legislative session begins. Such a lawsuit would likely claim that the state is both inadequately funding education and inequitably distributing that funding. 

Judicial justice grinds slowly so it’s not likely a court ruling would be issued before the end of the legislative session in May 2011. But if filed, the backdrop of a suit would likely fuel new legislation and legislative debate of the issue. Not something the legislators want to deal with in a session already facing a budget shortfall and redistricting. And there’s no blood in the budget turnip according to House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) who is quoted in the article as saying: “that there's virtually no hope of increased funding and deeper cuts are a real possibility. Maybe we need to look at how we're spending it and find ways to get more resources into things that work. Rather than add-ons, let's look at replacement." Now there’s a novel idea.

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