Texas Supreme Court Sides with Rich Districts for Now

Here is the bottom line paragraph from today’s judgment from the Texas Supreme Court:

We now hold, as did the district court, that local ad
valorem taxes have become a state property tax in violation of article
VIII, section 1-e, as we warned ten years ago they inevitably would,
absent a change in course, which has not happened. Although the
districts have offered evidence of deficiencies in the public school
finance system, we conclude that those deficiencies do not amount to a
violation of article VII, section 1. We remain convinced, however, as
we were sixteen years ago, that defects in the structure of the public
school finance system expose the system to constitutional
challenge. Pouring more money into the system may forestall those
challenges, but
only for a time. They will repeat until the system is overhauled.

This means that the lawsuit initiated by ‘rich districts’ (the West
Orange Cove plaintiffs) has succeeded. They can tax and spend at higher
rates.

In the short run, the court is ruling against further claims
by intervenors from ‘poor districts’ (Edgewood and Alvarado plaintiffs)
that the funding of Texas schools is otherwise unconstitutional because
of alleged inequality and poor overall performance. But the court warns
that this short term ruling may be quite short term indeed if state
policy makers read this ruling as a vote of confidence.  Oooh.  Bet that’ll scare them into action!–gm

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