As state senators in 2011, Dan Patrick and Glenn Hegar both voted for a state budget that slashed $5.4 billion in state funding from public education, thereby increasing pressure on local property taxpayers to fund schools. Now, Patrick, as lieutenant governor, and Hegar, as state comptroller, both claim to be concerned – wink, wink, nod, nod – that property taxes are so high.
Patrick’s phony “concern” is already well-known. Every time the Legislature meets, he proposes an unrealistic, political scheme to tie the hands of local elected officials, who set property tax rates to meet local needs, while blaming them for the property tax mess. In truth, Patrick is the culprit, ramming through state budgets that deliberately under-fund public education and transfer increasing amounts of the school funding burden to property taxes.
Ever since Patrick and his comrade-in-school neglect, Gov. Greg Abbott, have held the state’s top two offices, the state’s share of funding public education has steadily declined, while the share borne by local property taxpayers has risen. During the upcoming school year, the state share of the Foundation School Program will fall to 38 percent, while the local share will rise to 62 percent, the Legislative Budget Board has projected.
Mike Collier, Patrick’s TSTA-endorsed election opponent, called out the lieutenant governor for his false property tax relief claims in a recent oped in the Texas Tribune. “To put it in Texas language, Dan Patrick keeps raising property taxes and lying about it,” Collier wrote.
Hegar then hurried to Patrick’s defense with a Tribune oped of his own, in which he claimed to “set the record straight” about Patrick and property taxes. He discussed the law governing how property values are determined for school districts and suggested that alone was the main reason that property taxes are so high.
Rising property values, of course, are a major factor in rising property tax levels. But Hegar neglected to point out that school boards could lower property tax rates and the overall property tax burden if Patrick, Abbott and their legislative allies would change the outdated school finance system and increase state funding for education. Patrick slammed the door on that idea as recently as last year, which was the last time the Legislature met.
Patrick has no credibility as a property tax reducer, and Hegar is damaging his every time he comes to Patrick’s defense.
Vote Education First!