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Taxes and Education

Note: On March 25, 2015, the Texas Senate “approved a package of bills that would cut taxes in Texas by more than four billion dollars.” These bills will require consideration by the Texas House of Representatives.

Lieutenant Governor Patrick promotes a reduction in property taxes. As enticing as this sounds, I urge caution. The Texas House and Senate continue to grapple with budgets for many needs in Texas. A wise course of action calls for identifying all of the priority needs in Texas and determining how much money is needed to pay for those essentials before we give token amounts of money back to tax payers.

Schools in Texas face the challenge of 80,000 new students each year. Sixty percent of our Texas children live in poverty. That’s a lot of poor children. Seventeen percent have limited English proficiency. Funding of schools in Texas will remain an unknown component until the Texas Supreme Court makes a ruling on school financing.

Other issues that demand attention include water, transportation, other infrastructures, health, and childcare. All of these issues as well as the education of Texas children require money. If we want this state to be the Great State of Texas that entices companies and families to want to live here, we must make certain our roads are adequate, there is enough water for all of us, and schools are capable of meeting challenges.

Of course a reduction in taxes sounds desirable. At times when money is tight and payments are due, I must remind myself that schools are paid for with money from property taxes. The real question is whether I want lower property taxes for myself or whether educating children is my top priority. Sometimes, we have to make painful choices.

Only when we know with certainty that needs and priorities in Texas can be met, will it be appropriate to have a discussion about property tax reduction. Let’s urge our legislators to wait. When the time comes for this discussion, let’s use facts as a basis for this decision.


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