Robin Hood Law

Robin Hood, or recapture, refers to a plan diverting property tax dollars from school districts considered property-wealthy, like the Austin Independent School District, to poorer ones across Texas. State legislators created the plan to help equalize school funding in response to the 1989 Texas Supreme Court case Edgewood v. Kirby.

In that case, 68 school districts sued, claiming the state’s school financing system violated the Texas Constitution. The system, which is based primarily on local property taxes, resulted in significant differences in spending on students in wealthy districts versus poorer ones. 

The court ruled in the districts' favor, finding the system was not in line with the Constitution’s call on legislators to ensure a “general diffusion of knowledge” and maintain an “efficient system of public free schools.” The Legislature passed the recapture law to make funding more equal.

AISD is the largest payer into the state’s recapture program. According to the Texas Education Agency, AISD paid 23 percent of the total collected in the recapture program for the 2016-2017 school year. The next highest payer was Plano ISD with 6 percent. AISD has paid over $2.5 billion to the program since 2001.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The Austin Independent School District's Board of Trustees voted Monday to approve a $1.6 billion budget, which includes across-the-board raises for school employees.

The board also voted to hire Stephanie Hawley as AISD's first chief equity officer and in favor of a new dress code.

Julia Reihs / KUT

The Texas Legislature usually finds a theme that emerges during the 140-day session. Two years ago, many people would call it the session of the “bathroom bill.” Even though an effort to restrict restroom access for the state’s transgender population did not become law, the debate around the subject took up much of the oxygen under the dome.

Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

After a long wait, the Texas Senate has finally unveiled a thorough proposal for how to tackle school finance and school property tax reform — bringing back several ideas the House already nixed.

How Does Recapture Affect School Funding In Texas?

Jun 27, 2018
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A large chunk of funding for schools in Austin comes from property taxes, and as many Austinites know, those keep going up every year.

Martin do Nascimento / KUT

As Austin’s property taxes continue to rise, so does the amount on the check AISD writes to the state.

The Austin Independent School District’s Board of Trustees approved a budget Monday night that sends more than half of its local tax revenue away from the district. Texas law requires wealthier districts to send a portion of their property taxes back to the state to help out smaller, poorer districts in a program known as “recapture.”

Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune

Today, Travis County District Court Judge John Dietz issued a ruling that finds the way Texas pays for public schools unconstitutional, calling it a de facto statewide property tax.

The case was brought by hundreds of Texas school districts after the state legislature cut $5 billion from public school funding in 2011.

Nathan Bernier/KUT News

A decision in the latest school finance lawsuit is expected next week, but it could be years before school districts see any changes to the way education is paid for in Texas.

Right now, the school finance system is largely characterized by something called recapture, or  Robin Hood. If a school district collects more local property taxes than the state has determined it needs using a set of formulas, it has to give the difference back to the state. Then, the state puts that money in a big pot and uses it to fund other school districts, especially those that can’t raise enough local property taxes on their own.

Texas Judge Reopens School Finance Trial (Update)

Jan 21, 2014
Kate McGee, KUT News

Update: Travis County District Judge John Dietz heard opening arguments today in the second round of Texas' school finance trial. The two sides are arguing over whether actions taken by the legislature last year change the judge’s preliminary ruling that the state’s public education finance system is unconstitutional.

When the legislature reconvened last year, it added back $3.4 billion for public education after it cut $5.4 billion during the 2011 session. Lawmakers reduced the number of required standardized tests for graduation from 15 to five.

At issue: were those changes enough to create a fair and equitable system to finance public education and allow schools and students to meet the state standards?

Gabriel Cristóver Pérez/KUT News

An AP investigation published in several papers this morning found that dozens of "property-wealthy" school districts held on to money they were supposed to send to the state under the so-called Robin Hood law.