Day: <span>August 2, 2017</span>

Abbott, Patrick: Squeeze schools, cry about property taxes


Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick want Texas voters to believe their hearts ache over the size of your local property taxes, but don’t believe them. These guys are not the solution. They – and legislators who think like them – are the problem.

As The Texas Tribune article linked below makes clear, property taxes are high because state school funding for public schools is too low. State funding for schools is too low because leaders like Abbott and Patrick refuse to invest adequate resources in education, preferring to pass the burden to local taxpayers.

Citing figures from the Legislative Budget Board, the Tribune article by Ross Ramsey notes that the state’s share of public education costs has dropped from about 45 percent 10 years ago to about 38 percent now.

“Had legislators and budget writers kept the state’s contribution at 45 percent, local school districts across Texas – and their property taxpayers – would have spent $18.6 billion less over that decade than they actually did,” the story points out.

A major contributor to that extra $18.6 billion burden on local taxpayers was the $5.4 billion cut in school funding from the state in 2011, for which Patrick, as a member of the legislative majority, voted. Also remember that a huge chunk of the $18.6 billion has been sent to school districts where the money wasn’t collected under an inadquate and outdated Robin Hood school finance law that Abbott, as attorney general, defended in court.

And, during the regular session this past spring, both Abbott and Patrick resisted efforts, initiated by Speaker Joe Straus and the House, to tap into the $10 billion Rainy Day Fund to increase school funding. Straus is trying again during the special session, but so far Abbott and Patrick are resisting.

The governor and lieutenant governor instead are trying to provide property tax “relief” by putting new limits on the ability of city and county governments to raise property taxes for their residents’ needs. They are deliberately ignoring the real property tax problem and their role in creating it.

Abbott’s and Patrick’s version of property tax “relief” is kind of like Abbott’s version of an unfunded teacher pay “raise.” Both are designed to deceive.