Is Lege’s School Rate Cut Driving Higher School Taxes?

It’s an inconvenient truth, but not only did the legislature’s effort to buy-down school property tax rates not result in lower tax bills (because they left the appraisal process untouched), but it has lead to higher school taxes. At least one elected official is calling it right.

State Board of Education member David Bradley told the Houston Chronicle that "We’re going to hit a brick wall."

Why? With 60 school districts statewide seeking nearly $8 billion in new construction bonds, the state’s ability to "cover" those bonds with Texas’ good name will be blown out of the water by out-of-control school spending. Here’s how the Chronicle described the situation:

The recent rush on school bonds — fueled by a steep reduction in property taxes that makes the climate more favorable for districts to ask voters for more money — is draining the fund’s capacity, said David Bradley, who represents the Beaumont area on the State Board of Education.

And so because the school districts are reaching greedily into the taxpayers wallets, the state’s ability to cover their new bonds is in jeopardy.

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that the long-standing state program that guarentees school district bonds can finance their debt at lower rates will be tapped out if all of these bonds are adopted.

When the legislature bought down school "maintenance and operations" rate, school districts responded by not only increasing their M&O rates the maximum amount allowed — and have driven up their bonded indebtedness which raises the "interest and sinking" portion school property taxes. The I&S portion was unaffected by the legislature’s action.

The result? Higher taxes.

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Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael is president and CEO of Empower Texans. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president, and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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