The Chron reiterates its opposition to the HISD recapture referendum.
Statewide property taxes are unconstitutional in Texas, but don’t tell that to the legislators in Austin.
For decades, the Legislature has been shifting its obligation to fund public education to local communities. Now, this November, Houston is facing a new sneaky invoice from the state. There’s a misleading budget measure on the ballot asking whether Houston Independent School District should submit itself to state recapture and send $162 million in local property tax dollars to Austin. As we’ve previously stated, the correct answer is “NO,” or “AGAINST.”
If the measure passes, HISD, a district with 3 out of 4 of its students considered economically disadvantaged, will have to significantly cut its budget and send $162 million in local tax revenues earmarked for public schools this year to Austin. The tab over four years is estimated to be $1 billion.
If the measure fails, HISD still may not be spared the budget cuts, as the Texas Education Agency will have the power to remove the highest-value commercial properties from the tax pool that pays into HISD and permanently assign the tax revenue to a poorer school system.
A vote against the measure offers education advocates one advantage: time. It will give the Legislature an opportunity to address the larger problem of why these draconian budget cuts are being foisted on a district that serves poor students.
The Chron ran basically the same editorial less than three weeks ago. I have no idea why they felt the need to restate their view, but there you have it. I myself am still grappling with this question, and as I have done in the past when trying to figure out which way to go in a particular election, I did some interviews. Today you will see an interview with David Thompson, the general counsel for the HISD Board of Trustees, who explains what the recapture issue is about and provides some context for why a No vote is called for. On Wednesday I’ll be running an interview with TSU poli sci professor and former HCC Trustee Jay Aiyer, who explains why a Yes vote is the most prudent course of action. I hope these two posts will help you figure out which way you should vote.