By Kevin Scanlan • 2019 President
The year has just begun and already ABoR is flexing its legislative muscle and testing its endurance on those issues that matter most to Austinites. This year ABoR will be focusing on key issues in public school financing, mobility and transportation, as well as the ongoing issue of flooding in Central Texas – three topics that could not be more critical to the success of our local housing market.
School finance reform. Most everyone knows that public schools depend on taxpayers. But did you know, under Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code, some districts are required to pay a portion of their revenue into a fund for redistribution around the state? This “recapture” requirement falls particularly hard on Austin ISD, which accounts for approximately 25 percent of the state’s recapture funds. Projections show that AISD will send $669.6 million of its revenue to the state for fiscal year 2019. These funds will be redistributed to property-poor districts based on taxable property value, while AISD will be forced to make hard decisions about how to address the resulting budget shortfall.
Not only does recapture impact the overall prosperity of Austin ISD, but it subsequently influences homebuyers who are first and foremost concerned with Austin’s cost of living and public-school system. AISD recently announced that 12 schools may need to be merged or closed to address the projected shortfall. At the same time, roughly half of the district’s student population is considered economically disadvantaged.
Mobility solutions. In addition to advocating for a more equitable school finance system, ABoR will continue to support creative solutions to address Austin’s ever-expanding need for improved transportation infrastructure. Central Texans commonly cite traffic as the number one challenge facing the region, and we recognize that the tools to address this growing challenge must come from all levels of government. We look forward to working with our Central Texas delegation, including REALTOR and State Representative Celia Israel, who has proven to be a strong proponent in furthering legislation that would create more tools to address issues in mobility and transportation in Central Texas.
Being transparent about flood risks. Finally, ABoR intends to remain attentive to impending changes to the city’s 100-year floodplain. Following the completion of the National Weather Service’s rainfall study, Atlas 14, ABoR is supporting the city’s approach to updating local flood maps to ensure that an interim 100-year floodplain be in place until a revised floodplain map can be redrawn.
As it stands, the latest rainfall data collected through Atlas 14 reflect a nearly 3 percent increase in rainfall over a 24-hour period in Austin; indicating an even greater risk of flooding in communities across Central Texas.
Getting engaged in key issues via ABoR. ABoR’s continued commitment to modernizing city codes and exploring the means of obtaining state funding is a considerable undertaking, which is why we encourage members to be engaged in the decision-making process. Those interested in becoming more involved can learn more about important issues like school finance, infrastructure, and floodplain revisions when they attend our Legislative Preview Event on Jan. 25.
Attendees will have the opportunity to meet the two newly elected state representatives in Austin: Vikki Goodwin and Sheryl Cole, at which point there will be a panel discussion and the official release of Texas REALTORS’ 2019 legislative agenda.
ABoR members can also attend our REALTOR Day at the Texas Capitol on March 26 to advocate for REALTORS and homeowners in Central Texas. For more information on how to get involved, follow us on social media or visit ABoR.com/Engage. Together we can advocate for a better Austin. RL