State Representative Dennis Paul (R-Houston) wants his constituents to know he’s “heartbroken” over rising property taxes in District 129. What he doesn’t mention is he’s responsible for them going up in the first place.
Lawmakers in Austin like Dennis Paul have created a public school funding system increasingly reliant on local property taxpayers, while the state’s share of funding goes down. The Texas Tribune reported on September 12th “the Texas Education Agency projected a drop in the state’s general revenue for public education by more than $3.5 billion over the next couple of years, in part because the revenue from local property taxes is expected to skyrocket.”
District 129 residents need only look at the balance sheets of two local school districts — Clear Creek ISD and Pasadena ISD — which together are home to more than 95 percent of Dennis Paul’s constituents to confirm what they already know is true. They are paying more in taxes and getting less from the state.
Consider Clear Creek ISD. In Fiscal Year 2016, CCISD received $129.3 million in state funding, while local taxpayers paid $280.6 million. By Fiscal Year 2018, state funding decreased to $106 million, while local taxpayers’ share ballooned to $323.7 million. The state’s share dropped 18 percent while the local share went up 15 percent in just three years.
A similar situation is occurring in Pasadena ISD. In 2016, PISD received $358.8 million in state funding, while local taxpayers paid $157 million. In 2017, state funding decreased to $347.4 million, while local taxpayers’ share increased to $168.8 million. The state’s share dropped 10 percent while the local share went up 8 percent in just one year.
Meanwhile, as the Houston Chronicle reported, Pasadena ISD was forced this spring to raise taxes to close a $20 million budget shortfall, and Clear Creek ISD used its capital project fund to make up a $7.2 million budget deficit.
Dennis Paul wants us to believe – a few weeks before the election – he’s finally concerned about skyrocketing local property taxes. He knows the truth – he and his fellow politicians in Austin are directly responsible for this problem – because they cut taxes for their big corporate sponsors, and pass the state’s revenue shortfalls to local governments.
We can’t be fooled. Taxpayers across Texas are paying more in taxes and getting less, and failed policymakers like Dennis Paul are to blame. If we are to fix our state and get the transparency and tax fairness we deserve, we need to Reform Austin.