September 19, 2007
Of bonds and taxes

I have three things to say about this story concerning the various bonds proposals that will be on the ballot this fall.

1. Boy, the anti position sure was well-represented, wasn't it? From Bruce Hotze to Greg Meyers to Paul Bettencourt to that poor schlub in Cy-Fair who's suffering from "tax fatigue" (whatever that is), they were out in force. Representing the other side of the issue was...well, no one, actually. Those of you who consider yourselves aficionados of "media bias", file that one away.

2. Speaking of Bettencourt, he's right about this, though from a perspective with which I disagree:

"The tax relief from school finance reform never amounted to the $2,000 per homeowner that the governor talked about," Bettencourt said. "With bond packages and increases in property values, all the relief will be gone in two years."

The whole idea was a sham, and it was built on a house of cards. The tax shift that resulted from last year's special session was only possible because of a budget surplus from the last biennium, and an insistence on siphoning money away from other priorities in this biennium. The new business tax doesn't come close to funding the property tax reductions that were promised. It's a near-sure bet that these shell games will have to come to an end in 2009.

3. While the main focus of the 2006 special session was on property tax reduction (to call it "school finance reform" is highly misleading), there were some non-financial items taken up. This was one of them:

Voting on school bonds in conjunction with state, county and other local issues will be a new experience for many voters because of a new state law that requires districts to hold elections during general elections if trustees are being chosen. Previously, many school districts held stand-alone elections in the spring.

"This is the first time our voters will experience a bond election coupled with a general election," Cy-Fair Assistant Superintendent Kelli Durham said. "There may be several other bond elections on the ballot. However, ours is clearly for new schools, renovations and technology. We think it will stand out as an item they need to respond to."

The cynical view of this is that the change was deliberate, with the purpose of making bond elections more partisan. The question is whether that will make bond proposals tougher to pass. We'll see about that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on September 19, 2007 to Election 2007

Boy, the anti position sure was well-represented, wasn't it?

The pro position has been pretty well represented in previous stories. Surely you're not suggesting that not one story should be devoted to the anti position?

If you want to count up the number of Terry Abbott press releases that have found their way into media stories on HISD's bond proposal, I think that number would be many times larger than the number of references to Hotze.

I don't know if Harris County and Cy-Fair can claim to be as successful as HISD in promoting their bond proposals in the local media because I haven't really focused on them. But there is no doubt that Abbott and HISD have been successful in getting HISD's message out.

So maybe that's worth filing to someone, if anyone actually files these days.

Posted by: kevin whited on September 19, 2007 9:25 PM

But there is no doubt that Abbott and HISD have been successful in getting HISD's message out.

Which would explain why there's been so many stories lately about deep and widespread skepticism and hostility towards the HISD bond proposal. Have you not read those stories, or do they not count?

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on September 19, 2007 10:28 PM

Tax Fatigue is progressive loss of net worth due to cyclic taxing below the total budget of the citizen.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on September 19, 2007 11:55 PM