Texas SC will hear Abbott's appeal of school finance case

By Marilyn Tennissen | Jan 26, 2015

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear the appeal of the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s public school funding system – an appeal filed by Texas’ new governor Greg Abbott in the latter days of his term as attorney general.

Abbott filed an appeal on Sept. 26 with the high court, challenging District Judge John Dietz’s Aug. 28 ruling that the way Texas pays for schools is unconstitutional, inefficient and inadequate. Dietz said the system creates a de facto statewide property tax in violation of state laws.

The judge’s decision could have brought to an end the litigation from 600 Texas school districts that sued the state after $5.4 billion was cut from the public education budget in 2011.

But Abbott said he still had a legal argument because of a clause in the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. Section 111.003 (a)(2) of the code states that without legislative approval, the attorney general may not settle a claim that could increase expenditure of state funds.

According to the justices’ decision issued Jan. 23, the state has 80 days to file their briefs in the case and the plaintiff school districts will have 80 days after that. Both sides will then have 40 days to submit replies to the briefs.

The Supreme Court will set a date for oral arguments sometime after the final deadline on Aug. 11.


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