Judge rules Texas public school funding system unconstitutional


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and Associated Press and KVUE.com

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Posted on February 4, 2013 at 6:23 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 16 at 1:16 PM

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- After months of testimony in Texas' sweeping school finance trial, a district court judge has ruled that the tax system Texas uses to finance public schools is unconstitutional.

Judge John Dietz ruled in favor of more than 600 school districts responsible for educating three-quarters of the state's 5 million-plus public school students.

After a trial that took more than three months, Dietz determined the Legislature has not adequately funded schools as required under the Texas Constitution. In 2011, the Legislature cut $5.4 billion in funding by rewriting the formula used to distribute state money.

The trial began Oct. 22. The public school districts involved argued that the way the state funds schools is so inadequate and unfairly distributed that it violates the Texas Constitution. That's because the state Legislature voted to cut $5.4 billion in funding to public education two years ago.

The cuts came amid soaring enrollment growth, fueled by low-income students. Districts say such students are more expensive to educate.

The state countered that the system -- while not perfect -- is constitutional.

Dietz ruled from the bench and is expected to provide a detailed opinion later. The attorney general's office is expected to appeal the case to the Texas Supreme Court.


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