Texas Relies on Property Taxes to Fund Schools

Texas law directs the state to contribute a substantial share of public education funding, but the state’s share has declined from nearly 50 percent in 2008 to a projected 38 percent by 2019.

State and local funding has gotten out of balance. When local economies are strong, property tax revenue collections increase, and the state is able to reduce its contribution to schools. However, the current school finance system allows the state to take advantage of higher local property taxes, which state budget writers plan for in their funding projections.

Declining state share burdens local school districts. The last thing a school district wants to do is increase their community’s tax burden, but the state is relying on local taxpayers to vote to increase local debt and taxes so their schools have the money they need for teachers and facilities.

Recent poll data shows that the majority of Texans believe the state should contribute its fair share of 50 percent or more toward public education.

 1 Legislative Budget Board Fiscal Size-Up 2016-2017, General Appropriations Act, 85th Legislature; Legislative Budget Board. FY 2017-2019 estimate is based on the Conference Committee Report for Senate Bill 1. Local share includes recapture dollars; in FY 2010-2011 state share funds included the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

2 Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium, 2018. Statewide Voter Survey. http://tegac.org/wp-content/up­loads/2018/03/News-Release-Public-Ed-Polling-2018-03-19-FINAL-1.pdf


The Center for Public Policy Priorities produced this analysis in 2018, with support from the Texas Education Grantmakers Advocacy Consortium (TEGAC).