AUSTIN (Austin American-Statesman) – Multiple Texas senators have banded together to propose a potential solution to the challenges created by Texas’ school finance system.

They are asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment authorizing a statewide property tax that would replace much of the local school property tax.

State Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, said a statewide property tax would not add to taxpayers’ total burden, but it would provide for an equitable and efficient public education system, as required by the state constitution.

Texas public schools are paid for through a mix of state and local tax dollars that total almost $49 billion a year, according to the Texas Education Agency. Some have deemed the system broken in cases where per-student funding varies drastically within counties. For example, the per-student funding in Williamson County ranges from $4,600 in the Granger district to almost $6,300 in the nearby Jarrell district.

Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said the constitutional amendment might:

  • Repeal a prohibition on a statewide property tax and allow the state to levy a tax of up to $1 per $100 of assessed property value.
  • Allow local school districts to levy a property tax of up to 20 cents per $100 of assessed property value for “enrichment” purposes.
  • Eliminate the so-called Robin Hood system that requires property-wealthy school districts to contribute to the funding of poorer districts.
  • Set a lower limit on how much residential property values can increase each year. The limit is now 10 percent.