Day: <span>April 19, 2017</span>

Denying the attack on public education


Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick continues to peddle the political fiction that his anti-public education priorities are somehow benefiting school children AND protecting taxpayers. Although ideological true-believers in his political base may swallow that garbage without gagging, the exact opposite is true.

If Patrick has his way in the war of wills with the House over budget and education policy, public schools will remain woefully under-funded and many homeowners will continue to see their school property taxes increase.

In a recent political email, Patrick bragged: “We’re reminded that Texas is a conservative model for the nation, where we are working every day to keep taxes and regulation low and our government lean and efficient. During this legislative session, I am fighting to uphold our conservative values by passing a fiscally responsible state budget, lowering property taxes for all Texans and reducing the franchise tax.”

If Texas is a “conservative model” for the nation, heaven help the nation. Patrick and his allies are working to keep state government lean, mean (in the hurtful sense of the word) and very inefficient by passing an irresponsible state budget that will keep thousands of school classrooms overcrowded, thousands of teachers and other school employees under-paid and hundreds of thousands of school kids with little or no health care.

Should Patrick prevail, who knows how many foster children in state care would remain at risk, despite all the political hand-wringing over deaths and vulnerabilities in the under-funded Child Protective Services system.

Homeowners and others who pay school property taxes – which already pay for most public school costs in Texas – would see their local taxes continue to rise, not drop, without a greater state investment in public education, which Patrick opposes.

The lieutenant governor and his Senate allies even refuse to tap into the Rainy Day Fund. That’s a $12 billion mountain of taxpayer money that Patrick wants to sit on ala King Midas or Uncle Scrooge.

The only bit of truth in Patrick’s statement quoted above was in the last four words, the part about his effort to make future cuts in the business franchise tax. That’s true but potentially disastrous because if that happens, the funding dilemma for school districts and the tax burden for local property owners will worsen.