Editorial: Tax daze

Money earmarked for education should not be diverted

Dec. 26, 2016

The Houston Chronicle argues that local school tax dollars should stay in public education, and not be used by the state to supplant it's share of public education funding. Spring Branch ISD estimates it will send $67.4 million in recapture -- 22 percent of local tax revenue -- to Austin this year.
The Byzantine Empire inherited a well-developed bureaucracy that had evolved for centuries under Roman rule. The result was a system of governance that became overly complex and opaque.
Today we use the adjective "Byzantine" to refer to any system that is beyond understanding. In an opinion this year, the Texas Supreme Court used the term to describe our "marginally constitutional" school finance system. Byzantine is apt.
Most local taxpayers believe that higher property taxes that accompany rising property values will fund local services and that those revenues paid to school districts will be spent on public education. Areas with the greatest increase in property values often also have a growing school-age population, and investment in quality public education can preserve the resale value of homes within a school district.
But for many Texans, higher property taxes paid to school districts do not, in fact, support local schools or any schools at all. The Legislature claims these funds under a program, misleadingly referred to as "Robin Hood," and uses them as general revenues to support all forms of state spending.


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