The courts have not always been the preferred guardians of sound fiscal policy. More often than not, they just muddy the waters. This is particularly true in state court decisions on education finance. And yet, yesterday the Texas Supreme Court issued an important decision that will hopefully restore some balance to our debate about how we fund our school systems.
While the Court did strike down the local property taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. cap, it refused to rule that Texas is inadequately funding its education system:
“While the end-product of public education is related to the resources available for its use, the relationship is neither simple nor direct; public education can and often does improve with greater resources, just as it struggles when resources are withheld, but more money does not guarantee better schools or more educated students.”
This is a crucial point. Too often, the debate over education spending is based on a faulty foundation: that the amount we spend dictates the quality of our system. The Texas Supreme Court acknowledges that a quality education is dependent on a number of factors, including the level of funding.
There is little question that the biggest pressure on state tax systems today is a desire for more education dollars. This desire often trumps any consideration of the quality of the system. Hopefully this decision will help restore balance to the debate.Share