The Latest: Texas governor calls school ruling 'victory'

AP News
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Posted: May 13, 2016 12:02 PM

DALLAS (AP) — The Latest on the Texas Supreme Court upholding the state's school finance system (all times local):

11 a.m.

Gov. Greg Abbott is hailing the Texas Supreme Court's declaring the state's complicated school finance system constitutional as "a victory for Texas taxpayers and the Texas Constitution."

The Republican said Friday's 9-0 ruling "ends years of wasteful litigation by correctly recognizing that courts do not have the authority to micromanage" Texas schools.

Abbott was state attorney general before becoming governor last year. His office opposed the more than 600 Texas school districts that sued in 2011 over the Legislature's $5.4 billion cut to education funding.

Abbott did not personally argue the case, which featured a lower court judge twice saying the funding system violated Texas constitutional requirements for a fair and efficient system providing a "general diffusion of knowledge."

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10:50 a.m.

Texas State Teachers Association President Noel Candelaria is decrying the state Supreme Court's decision declaring Texas' school finance system constitutional.

He called it "sad day" that the court decided "doing the least the state can do to educate our children is enough."

Judges unanimously ruled that, while flawed, the state's "Robin Hood" system of sharing property tax revenue among school districts in wealthy and poor areas met constitutional requirements of a fair and efficient system providing a "general diffusion of knowledge."

The decision was a blow to the 600-plus school districts statewide who sued, seeking more funding.

School finance suits aren't new in Texas, but the courts have often in the past struck down funding mechanisms and made the Legislature devise new ones.

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9:45 a.m.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick says the state Supreme Court's ruling on the school finance system shows it has "flaws ... but it is constitutional."

The Republican oversees the state Senate and is a former chairman of the chamber's powerful education committee.

He said Friday's ruling confirms what many in the GOP-controlled Legislature already believed.

The ruling concludes four-plus years of legal battles in Texas' largest-ever school finance case, and means state lawmakers won't have to devise a new funding plan.

The lawsuit was filed by 600-plus districts in 2011, after the GOP-controlled Legislature cut $5.4 billion from classrooms.

Texas uses a "Robin Hood" system where districts share property tax revenue. A lower court judge had previously ruled that the funding system inadequate and unfairly distributed between school districts in rich and poor areas.

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9:10 a.m.

The Texas Supreme Court has declared the state's school finance system constitutional — a surprise defeat for 600-plus school districts that sued.

Friday's ruling by the all-Republican court concludes four-plus years of legal battles in Texas' largest-ever school finance case.

It also means the GOP-controlled Legislature won't have to devise a new funding plan.

The high court reversed a ruling by a Democratic district judge, who previously ruled funding inadequate and unfairly distributed between school districts in rich and poor areas. Texas uses a "Robin Hood" system in which districts share property tax revenue.

The lawsuit was filed by 600-plus districts in 2011 after the GOP-controlled Legislature cut $5.4 billion in school funding.

The case was the sixth since 1984, and the court had found the system unconstitutional four times.