Feb 10, 2022 - News

The case for changing Texas' Robin Hood program

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Texas school districts paid nearly $3 billion in local property taxes to the state in 2021 as part of the "Robin Hood" program.

Driving the news: Texas School Coalition, a lobbying group representing school districts that pay recapture, released a report this week highlighting just how much tax money leaves local coffers to help balance the state budget.

Why it matters: Dallas ISD ranked ninth among Texas school districts in the amount paid to the state in recapture. The district paid more than $85 million in 2021.

  • Plano ISD and Highland Park ISD ranked third and fifth, respectively.

Meanwhile, 89% of the student population in Dallas is considered economically disadvantaged.

  • The report points out that the program does not differentiate between property wealth and the personal wealth of the community.

The intrigue: The group released the report this week to draw attention back to the issue to combat the misperception that the program was "fixed" in 2019, when the state legislators passed House Bill 3, which overhauled the state’s school finance system.

  • ​​"We need time to build awareness so we can achieve goals in the next legislative session," Texas School Coalition executive director Christy Rome tells Axios.

Flashback: The recapture program, often referred to as Robin Hood, has been in effect since the 90s, but the amount paid each year has grown as property values have skyrocketed.

  • In 1993, 34 of the wealthiest school districts in the state paid $127 million in recapture. Last year, 158 school districts paid $2.96 billion to the state.

What the report recommends:

  • The recapture formula should take into account the cost of education in different parts of the state and the cost of educating economically disadvantaged students, like those in Dallas.
  • Money collected through recapture should only be spent on education and not other parts of the state’s budget.
  • Property tax bills should state how much of the local taxes will be paid to the state in recapture.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Dallas stories

No stories could be found


Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Dallas.


Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more