Hurricane Harvey

Harvey Could Blow A Hole In State’s Education Budget

Texas Education Commissioner, Mike Morath, said fixing damage to school buildings alone might cost the state roughly $500 million

First Day of School
A young boy shows his lunch bag to HISD Superintendent Richard Carranza on the day most of the district’s schools returned to class following Hurricane Harvey, Sept. 11, 2017.

As the House Public Education Committee met to gauge the financial losses Harvey inflicted on school districts, State Representative Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) urged his colleagues to consider what he called “the elephant in the room.”

“It could take years for property values to come back,” said VanDeaver. “So we could see a real drop in recapture for the next ten years.”

Texas relies on tax receipts from property-rich school districts to help pay for poorer ones, a system known as recapture.

State Education Commissioner Mike Morath explained what that meant, given the damage to schools across Southeast Texas: “Just the facilities remediation alone could eliminate roughly $500 million a year in recapture payments in the state budget.”

Houston ISD’s chief financial officer, Rene Barajas, said HISD is working with FEMA and its insurance to reduce its burden from recapture payments. That would leave the district with more money for disaster relief.  But he said it’s unlikely property values will fall so far as to take the district out of recapture altogether.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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