AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin Mayor Steve Adler says it is time for the city to reconsider a tax swap with its school district.
On Friday, city leaders will discuss the benefits of using the unique funding system to help the Austin Independent School District.
“All a tax swap does is try to find a new way to finance those in a way that saves our taxpayers dollars, that’s all it does,” said Adler in an interview Thursday.
The city says a swap is needed because AISD’s budget is cash-strapped. City leaders blame lower funding of AISD schools on the state’s method of school finance.
Back in May, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state’s education funding system is constitutional. Texas required school districts with high property values, which includes AISD, to send a portion of their property tax revenue to the state. The money is used to subsidize districts around the state with lower property values.
Austin has a long-standing complaint that the state relies too heavily on local tax dollars to fund schools statewide. Last month, several Central Texas school districts launched a committee to explore other options with state lawmakers.
“When the state takes all property tax money from the state… I don’t think they’re sending back… what is our fair share,” said Gov. Greg Abbott.
City leaders said they may have to take funding matters into their own hands, and a tax swap might help.
The funding method would allow Austin to pay for the school district’s non-educational expenses, especially for low-income students. One idea is for the city to take over the cost of the district’s social services, like family resource centers and parent support specialists.
“By having the city pick it up we can raise the same amount of money, but with a lower tax impact on our citizens,” Adler said. “So it’s swapping those responsibilities to result to a net tax savings for people who live here. I don’t know if the concept is going to work, but it sounds promising.”
Adler also said his team is working on a plan to reduce the dollars the state siphons from AISD. He said he would like to take the proposal to state lawmakers during the upcoming legislative session.
Gigi Barnett explains on KXAN News Today on the CW Austin why the city and AISD are working in tandem to get the proper funding they need.