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Status of School Finance Litigation. Lynn Moak, Moak, Casey & Associates. Status of Litigation. Causes of Action: Adequacy : Rising standards and funding cuts leave insufficient revenue to provide the GDK.

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Status of school finance litigation

Status of School Finance Litigation

Lynn Moak, Moak, Casey & Associates

Moak, Casey & Associates

Status of litigation
Status of Litigation

  • Causes of Action:

    • Adequacy: Rising standards and funding cuts leave insufficient revenue to provide the GDK.

    • Meaningful discretion: Remaining tax rate capacity is insufficient to offset for funding cuts, and provide meaningful discretion to enrich.

    • Efficiency/Equity: Target revenue disparities in combination with unequalized funds produces unconstitutional student / taxpayer inequity.

    • Rationality: The state has failed to provide a rational system based on appropriate cost adjustments and structure

Moak, Casey & Associates


  • How good does our education system have to be to meet the general diffusion of knowledge standard of the Texas constitution?

  • Is the cost of adequacy under the current system a suitable subject for judicial determination?

  • How do the evolving state standards work into the equation?

  • Do the outdated cost measures impair the adequacy of the system?

Moak, Casey & Associates


  • Is the degradation of system equity since 2004 severe enough to warrant court intervention?

  • What weight does the state commitment to eliminate target revenue by 2017 have?

  • Should the yield for debt service be included in the court’s analysis of tax equity?

  • Given the standard of equity up to the GDK level, should the lack of recapture for a portion of “enrichment” be considered?

Moak, Casey & Associates

Meaningful discretion
Meaningful Discretion

  • Do the revenue reductions of the 2011 Legislature offset the “meaningful discretion” afforded by $1.17?

  • Do districts at $1.17 have meaningful discretion to enrich?

  • Should the effective combination of limited voter appeal and the potential for recapture be considered in the analysis?

Moak, Casey & Associates


  • Does a separate but unequal funding scheme constitute “suitable” and “efficient” provision?

  • Does the use of 1980s’ weights and adjustments provide the state with a rational basis for funding public education?

  • Are the state long term commitments to adjust standards and financing sufficient?

Moak, Casey & Associates

Litigation timing
Litigation Timing

  • Four groups have filed

  • Discovery process underway

  • District court ruling sometime in fall

  • Supreme Court could direct brief rehearing after the 2013 legislative session

Moak, Casey & Associates

Closing lawsuit observations
Closing Lawsuit Observations

  • Constitutional challenges as an element in a larger debate

  • Proclivity of the court to grant state discretion in all but clear “out of bounds” situations

  • Need for a clear constitutional priority for public education funding

  • Beware of the request

Moak, Casey & Associates

Growth in district revenue 2005 2009
Growth in District Revenue 2005-2009

Moak, Casey & Associates

Texas in national rankings on public education spending
Texas in National Rankings on Public Education Spending

  • NCES data on Texas current expenditures per pupil in membership

    • 1997-98: $5,444 - ranked 36th among the states

    • 2008-09: $8,562 – ranked 43rd among the states

  • Enrollment growth/school construction costs may serve to keep current expenditures lower than in some other states

Moak, Casey & Associates

Status of school finance litigation

Lynn M. Moak

Daniel T. Casey


Amanda Brownson, Ph. D.

Dee Carney

Chris Grammer

Bob Popinski

Larry Throm

Maria Whitsett, Ph. D.

Joe Wisnoski

Kathy Mathias

Larry Groppel, Ed. D.

Thomas V. Alvis, Ph. D.


Susan Moak

Kari Ruehman

Administrative Staff

400 West 15th Street, Suite 1410, Austin, Texas 78701-1648

Ph. (512) 485-7878 Fax (512) 485-7888

Moak, Casey & Associates