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By Mitch Borden
Take from the rich and give to the poor. That’s the idea behind “recapture” — the state’s education funding strategy that’s more commonly known as the “Robin Hood” plan. The plan redistributes a portion of property tax revenue from school districts with high property values and transfers that money to districts with low home values.
But critics say “Robin Hood” takes resources from struggling schools in areas with high property values, like towns in the Permian Basin and the Big Bend. That’s why Rep. Brooks Landgraf, a republican from Odessa, wants to get rid of recapture. He said the decades-old funding plan hurts more than helps public schools.
“A policy like Robin Hood takes away that ability for school districts to apply resources that are raised in that community for the benefit of the community,” said Landgraf.
In the Permian Basin, the cost of living and property values have gone up dramatically as the region’s oil production has increased. This has caused school districts in the area to be considered wealthy even though many are struggling to retain and recruit teachers and improve test scores. In the Big Bend region, Marfa ISD is now considered a “property wealthy” district.
“Not all of these so-called wealthy districts are created equally, but the state law ignores that fact completely,” said Landgraf.
Landgraf wants his bill to repeal the “Robin Hood” plan to be part of a larger effort to reform education funding in the state. He said if Texas increases financial support for education, the Robin Hood plan wouldn’t be needed and taxpayers would bare less of a burden when it comes to funding schools.
Recently, Landgraf also introduced a bill that would effectively repeal standardized testing in the state.