When the time comes to issue blame in regards to high property taxes in the state of Texas, senators can often be rather touchy on the subject. However, they dislike having someone official, or anyone for that matter, pointing out the relationship between the increase in local property taxes and the decreasing per-student education spending.
For instance, in Tarrant County recently, a Republican judge stated to a crowd that the property tax increases were being driven by Texas’ failure to pay their fair share of costs involving public education. A page from the current state budget was shown on a screen, which stated the following:
“Property values, and the estimates of local tax collections on which they are based, shall be increased by 7.04 percent for tax year 2017 and 6.77 percent for the tax year 2018.”
This is actually Texas’ estimate of what school districts are actually going to do rather than Texas dictating a specific tax route. However, some senators recently stated in a letter that the judge was suggesting in a “dishonest” manner that Texas was establishing local property tax rates. They wrote the following:
“Let’s set the record straight. Local property tax rates are set by locally elected officials. Period. They are not determined by an informational rider in the state budget as Judge Whitley dishonestly suggests. He well knows our school finance formula dictates that local property tax revenue go into the system first, with state funding added on top. This has been the case since the 1940s. Local property tax collections dictate the state’s share of education funding – not vice versa.”
Local public education spending has actually increased over the last ten years, while Texas’ share of public education has decreased. According to senators, state spending during the current budget has increased by $5.8 billion more than the last two-year budget. On the other hand, the share of the state is also decreasing to 38% for 2019, which is a fall from 2016’s total of 43.7%.
State tax dollar spending is also decreasing, while local tax dollar spending is increasing. Additionally, overall spending is increasing as well, meaning that lawmakers will have plenty of “wiggle room” as a result.
The judge essentially has a strong argument in the sense that lawmakers in Texas aren’t necessarily to blame, yet they are just as responsible as everyone else.
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