Dear Tax Payer:
Six Facts and One Opinion
Fact 1: Census data from several sources estimate that Texas is growing between 500 and 1000 people per day resulting in a huge demand for new school facilities in the 37 most urbanized counties. The other 217 rural counties are experiencing population declines or growing at a very modest rate. According to data on the Conference of Urban Counties website, 80% of Texans live in just 37 urbanized counties most of which are located along or near an Interstate Highway.
Fact 2: The number of students added to the public school system due to the rapid population growth in Urban/suburban areas equals an entire new grade level being added every year. That amounts to 7.6% increase per year.
Fact 3: Our State Legislature has shifted the burden to pay for education from the State to local property owners resulting in higher property taxes. State spending has dropped by $339 per student since the “school finance reform of 2006.” Prior to 2006 the State shared education costs equally with local school districts. The State contributed 45% and local districts the same 45% with another 10% from the federal government. The ratio is now 52% Local and 38% State. The actions of the 2017 Legislature will increase the tax burden on local property owners even more by reducing the State’s contribution another $250 per student, the largest two year decrease ever.
Fact 4: Local property taxes could be lowered if State funding was returned to the previous 45% level. Instead, Governor Abbot, Lt. Governor Patrick, our own Senator Bob Hall and other State Senate leaders point the blame on local school districts for raising property taxes and try to act like a savior by promoting “Property Tax Relief” in the form of a 5% Property Tax Cap. (Smoke and Mirrors)
Fact 5: The recently adopted State Budget is based upon school districts increasing local funds (property values/taxes) by 6.8% per year. Governor Abbott identified property tax relief (5% Cap) as a key piece of legislation for the special session. Someone please stop by and explain to me how the Governor and Lt. Governor think an expected budget increase of 6.8% is possible if they pass a 5% Cap. Fuzzy Math?
Fact 6: The State has been “kicking the school finance reform issue” down the road for the past 30 years with numerous illogical schemes.
Opinion: It is time for Republican and Democratic legislators to put aside their differences, to stop playing games and address school finance once and for all.
I call on all of my fellow Republicans and Democrats alike to contact Senator Bob Hall and tell him to represent those who voted for him by reaching across the aisle to seek real, permanent solutions. Tell him to quit insulting us with “smoke and mirror solutions” which are doomed to failure. Our leaders are squandering our over-whelming Republican majority.
Rains County Commissioner PCT 4