May 31, 2006
Kronberg on the special session

It's nothing I haven't written before, but I like it when folks such as Harvey Kronberg agree with me, in this case about the real outcome of the special session.

First, [the West Orange-Cove plaintiffs] correctly said that the recently passed legislation was more about reducing school property taxes than it was about creating a stable funding source for public education.

Second, the Legislature permitted school boards a maximum of four cents per $100 they could raise their property taxes. After that, any tax increase would have to be approved by the voters.

That may make some political constituencies happy, but it is an expensive proposition to conduct an election and may be an insurmountable obstacle for many small- and medium-sized school districts.

Finally, the school districts said the state is already telling them how to spend up to 97 cents of each dollar. Additional mandates from the state will eat up the rest.

Trust me. The Legislature can't help itself. There will be more mandates

The plaintiffs correctly point out the state is treating locally raised property tax dollars as if it were its own money which deprives local school boards of any meaningful spending decisions.

When that three to four cent cushion evaporates over the next few years, school districts will be right back in court fighting the back door statewide property tax the Legislature just passed.

Chris Bell is out there talking about this, too. He's also right that the expanded reliance on TAKS testing as the one true measurement of all things scholastic is misguided at best and counterproductive at worst. Standardized testing certainly has its place, but no single metric can do it all.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 31, 2006 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack