Texas ISDs are sitting upon billions and billions of unused tax money, even while they clamor for more federal funds, press for more state aid, and eye more local debt (see here, here, here, and here for example). Meanwhile, taxpayers are getting absolutely shellacked.
The fact that school districts are sitting on a goldmine came to light earlier this week when one Texas lawmaker, State Rep. Dan Huberty, mentioned it during a floor debate over House Bill 1525. In the course of laying out the bill—which did not address excess fund balances—Huberty said that it’s “insane the amount of money [ISDs] are putting in their bank accounts.”
Huberty elaborated further, saying:
- School districts have fund balances totaling $21.5 billion;
- Even after discounting 110 days of operating expenses, ISDs still have $6.6 billion in excess funding;
- Even after discounting 180 days of operating expenses, ISDs still have $1.9 billion in excess funding;
- Last year—during the Great Lockdown—ISD fund balances grew by $600 million; and
- This issue needs much more transparency.
One possible solution to all of this, according to Huberty, is House Bill 3445, which “will help give district administration and the [Texas Education Agency] clarity on how to better utilize those funds.” The bill is currently bottled up in the House Public Education committee.
The exchange on the House floor is worth elevating because school district budgets are flush with funding and homeowners are hurting. What’s more, those excess funds don’t belong to ISDs. They belong to taxpayers, and they deserve to be returned rather than hoarded.
More information on HB 3445 below.