DALLAS - As part of school finance reform, Texas lawmakers have promised more money for schools, property tax relief, and funding for full day pre-K for low income students.
It makes it sound like Texas just won the lottery or the Super Bowl, as Lt. Governor Dan Patrick put it.
But it is all too good to be true.
The new school and tax relief plan is expected to cost Texas $2.5 billion more than the original proposals, but times are good, and lawmakers are betting on them staying good for two more years.
“On the face of it, what's not to love?” asked Cal Jillson, SMU political science professor.
Amid much fanfare Thursday, Texas' big three state officials touted their compromise deal that promises to bring more money for schools, teacher raises, and property tax relief.
[REPORTER: “Have lawmakers explained how they're going to pay for all of these things?”
“The lawmakers, in tight budget years, cut public schools so we fall farther behind. In good budget years, this is one of those, they put more money into schools,” Jillson said.
Jillson says while it's good lawmakers are putting $4.5 billion more into education this year, Texas will still rank near the bottom of the nation in per-student funding.
“What Texas politicians will never tell you in a good year where they put new money into schools, is that the national economy is also good, so the other 49 states are doing the same thing, and not making up ground,” Jillson said. “We've been 38 among the 50 states per pupil funding for many decades.
The legislation also makes some progress when it comes to the often criticized Robin Hood funding system that requires property wealthy school districts to pay a portion of their tax revenue to the state.
“Robin Hood is not suspended, but it has been limited in its impact. Our wealthy school districts - North Dallas, Plano, Highland Park - will save tens of millions of dollars. But there will be some transfers still made,” Jillson explained.
The compromise now gives about an equal amount of money to property tax relief.
The plan includes a $5 billion school tax cut, along with a property tax cap.
That amounts to a savings of $200 to $300 for the owner of a $250,000 home.
It's still worth noting that homeowners will not necessarily see lower tax bills overall, only smaller increases as property values rise.
“Lawmakers have done well this year in an easy year,” Jillson added.
Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Hinojosa said he is pleased with the bill at first glance, but there is still a lot to learn about the details.
He said that it does appear the district will not pay nearly as much as it would have in the Robin Hood recapture system.