April 08, 2004
Perry to unveil his proposal today

Get ready, because Governor Perry will finally unveil his school finance reform proposals today in San Antonio.

Richard Olivarez, superintendent of the San Antonio School District, said he would welcome Perry to Fox Tech High School on Thursday, but hopes the governor will make his plan "palatable" by offering more education aid on top of Perry's proposal to put $500 million a year into bonuses to teachers and schools for student performance.

Commenting on the risks of spelling out any funding plan, Sen. Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said recently: "This so politically treacherous, it is just difficult to get out front and stick your neck out."

Ogden was a House member in the early 1990s when lawmakers struggled to heed the Texas Supreme Court's mandate to establish an equitable funding approach, a demand rooted in the decades-long legal fight led by San Antonio's Edgewood district.

"History shows that the first plan out is dead," Ogden said. "It's the last plan that passes, not the first."


According to a private presentation by Perry in San Antonio, his plan would lower school maintenance and operation property taxes on homesteads to $1.25 per $100 valuation. Businesses, however, would be subject to a statewide property tax starting at $1.40 per $100 valuation.

The plan would require legislators in future years to gradually lower the maximum tax rates to 75 cents per $100 valuation as state revenue comes available.


Lobbyist Brad Shields said GOP legislators at a retreat attended by Perry in Boerne last month "aggressively discussed" an alternative approach removing only tax revenue raised from homes from being redistributed to other districts, leaving revenue generated by commercial property subject to redistribution.

Shields speculated such an approach, also proposed by the Greater Houston Partnership, might be Perry's Plan B if the plan presented Thursday falters. Perry's office didn't immediately return a call for comment.

Shields, representing districts whose property wealth depends on heavy industry, prepared an analysis of the alternative plan indicating the highly residential Highland Park district in Dallas would see the biggest gain in reduced Robin Hood contributions.

The Chron suggests that Perry may have another new revenue source in mind: strip clubs.

Perry is expected to publicly unveil a plan for a statewide tax on business property that he has been circulating privately among business leaders and lawmakers in recent weeks.

Perry, who has said repeatedly that he doesn't want a major tax bill, also is expected to discuss other ideas for raising revenue for schools, including new "sin" taxes on cigarettes, gambling and patrons of adult nightclubs.

State Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said Wednesday he had heard that Perry had been discussing a $5-per-person tax on adult entertainment.

Whitmire said he didn't know what kind of entertainment the tax would include but joked that he wouldn't have to pay it.

"You're asking the wrong adult. You'd have to ask Perry. Maybe he knows more about that than me," Whitmire said. "I could refer you to a couple of my colleagues, but I don't frequent them.

"It does sound like a consumer tax to me," he added.

Maybe he could contact the Missouri Legislature for some advice on how best to impose this tax. Not that it would affect Mister Nice Respectable Married Guy over here.

As far as consensus goes, Perry's plan to cap property tax appraisals took yet another beating, this time in Dallas, Fort Worth, and surrounding areas. When places like Denton and Plano are critical of a Republican proposal to limit a form of taxation, you know the idea is in trouble.

Finally, as Andrew D notes, there are now at least two competing income tax proposals. Both are being pushed by Democrats, which makes them even deader than dead, but it's still good to get them in the mix. Go check out Rep. Eddie Rodriguez' income tax calculator, which demonstrates that his income tax plan, which includes a large swath of property tax relief, would save most people some money.

UPDATE: And here it is. Let the griping begin!

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 08, 2004 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack