Robin Hood plan

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The Robin Hood plan was a media nickname given to legislation enacted by the U.S. state of Texas in 1993 to provide court-mandated equitable school financing for all school districts in the state, in response to the Texas Supreme Court's ruling in Edgewood Independent School District v. Kirby.

Statutory law or statute law is written law set down by a body of legislature or by a singular legislator. This is as opposed to oral or customary law; or regulatory law promulgated by the executive or common law of the judiciary. Statutes may originate with national, state legislatures or local municipalities.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

Contents

The law "recaptured" property tax revenue from property-wealthy school districts and distributed those in property-poor districts, in an effort to equalize the financing of all school districts throughout Texas.

Background

Article 7 of the Texas Constitution states, in part, "it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools". [1] However, the state of Texas only dedicates $.0025 portion of the state sales tax and the net proceeds from the Texas Lottery, as well as earnings from the Permanent School Fund, to primary and secondary education.[ citation needed ] Otherwise, state funding is determined by the Texas Legislature.[ citation needed ] The primary source of education funding in Texas remains with the school districts' ability to assess property taxes.[ citation needed ]

A sales tax is a tax paid to a governing body for the sales of certain goods and services. Usually laws allow the seller to collect funds for the tax from the consumer at the point of purchase. When a tax on goods or services is paid to a governing body directly by a consumer, it is usually called a use tax. Often laws provide for the exemption of certain goods or services from sales and use tax.

Texas Lottery

The Texas Lottery is the government-operated lottery available throughout Texas. It is operated by the Texas Lottery Commission, headquartered in downtown Austin.

The Texas Permanent School Fund is a sovereign wealth fund which serves to provide revenues for funding of public primary and secondary education in the US state of Texas. Its assets include many publicly owned lands within Texas and various other investments; as of the end of fiscal 2014, the fund had an endowment of $36.3 billion. The fund is distinct from the Permanent University Fund, which funds most institutions in the University of Texas System and the Texas A&M University System, but no other public universities or schools in the state.

Initial lawsuit

In 1984, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed suit against state Commissioner of Education William Kirby on behalf of the Edgewood Independent School District in San Antonio, citing discrimination against students in poor school districts. The plaintiffs charged that the state's methods of funding public schools violated the Texas state constitution, which required the state to provide an efficient public school system.

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) is a national non-profit civil rights organization formed in 1968 to protect the rights of Latinos in the United States. Founded in San Antonio, Texas, it is currently headquartered in Los Angeles, California and maintains regional offices in Sacramento, San Antonio, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

Edgewood Independent School District is a public school district based in San Antonio, in Bexar County, Texas (USA).

School finance lawsuits must take place in state court, since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that education is not a fundamental right protected by the U.S. Constitution (San Antonio v. Rodriguez). The case, Edgewood Independent School District v. Kirby, eventually went to the Texas Supreme Court, which unanimously sided with Edgewood.

Passage

Passage came in 1993, after the Texas Supreme Court threw out two attempts by the Texas Legislature to write a constitutional school-finance system. The Legislature finally passed a funding plan that was accepted by the Court, in 1993.

Texas Legislature

The Legislature of the state of Texas is the state legislature of Texas. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The state legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin. It is a powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, but also due to Texas's plural executive.

The goal of the system was an attempt to prohibit wealthy districts from being able to raise revenue to provide benefits which poorer districts could not. Two provisions of the legislation would seek to implement this:

Ersatz state property tax, reform

But 10 years later, the Robin Hood plan was in jeopardy again. In November, 2005, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that, since the vast majority of school districts were having to tax at the maximum maintenance-and-operations (M&O) tax rate of $1.50 per $100 of property valuation just to raise enough money to meet state mandates, the school-finance system was, in effect, a state property tax, which is prohibited by the Texas Constitution. The Texas Legislature, meeting in a special session in April and May, 2006, passed legislation that met the court's requirements that local districts have "meaningful discretion" in setting tax rates. A series of bills changed the school finance system to cut school M&O property taxes by one-third by 2008, but allowed local school boards to increase tax rates from the new, lower levels, although generally only with voter approval. Some of the local property tax revenue lost by the one-third cut will be replaced by state revenue from a new business tax and higher cigarette taxes. The Comptroller estimated a five-year $23 billion shortfall from the revised tax system. [2]

See also

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References

  1. "The Texas Constitution, Article 7".
  2. "Letter to Governor Rick Perry, May 15, 2006 "Comptroller of Public Accounts, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, ""

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