Voters in property-rich Texas school districts are extremely reluctant to approve tax increases when half of the additional revenue will flow to poorer districts, a pollster testified last week in a suit challenging the constitutionality of the current state funding system.
A poll in July in three property-rich districts found 90% of voters would turn down a tax hike as long as the current “Robin Hood” system is in effect, according to Larry Harris of the Mason Dixon Polling & Research firm.
“That is a tough nut to crack,” Harris said in his testimony before Judge John Dietz in Austin’s 200th State District Court.
The redistribution system has been in effect since 1993.
Initially only 35 districts had to share their property tax revenue, but now there are 374 districts considered property rich.
In fiscal 2012, property-rich districts sent a total of $1 billion in local tax revenues to the state for redistribution.
More than two-thirds of the 1,024 local school districts in the state, along with the Texas Charter School Association and the Texas Association of Business, are parties to one of the six school finance lawsuits against the state and the Texas Education Agency.