Endorsement watch: In case you didn’t hear us the first time

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.

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6 Responses to Endorsement watch: In case you didn’t hear us the first time

  1. Terrance Jewett says:

    Its time for Texas to start an income tax.

  2. Bill Daniels says:


    Nobody trusts lawmakers with a new tax, because 1) that new tax will never go away, and 2) the tax that is proposed to be lessened or eliminated to offset the new tax won’t be.

    You OK a state income tax, you are just guaranteeing that you’ll be paying outrageously high property taxes AND a state income tax.

    Personally, I’m loving seeing HISD squirm. I hope they suffer. But hey, enjoy those school name changes, kids! That apparently was more important than buying books or paying teachers.

    This will be a great life lesson for the kids about the evils of socialism, and the evils of “wealth redistribution.” They can truly learn the lesson that socialism is great, until you run out of other people’s money. HISD is now in the position to be furnishing other people money. I love it!

  3. The Public says:

    Yeah Bill, hit those kids where it hurts… because gosh darn they are the ones who ought to pay the price for bad policy.

    Give me a break. How about not cut funding for Public Education? Nah, we’ll just build more roads and cut property taxes by a cent, then raid the piggy bank.

  4. Ross says:

    The name change issue can be laid at the feet of the worthless Jolanda Jones and her personal agenda. I doubt there are many HISD taxpayers who were happy about that vote.

    Overall, HISD does a pretty good job with what resources they have. Having to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the State over the next few years is going to do nothing to improve education for the students of HISD. Since i have an 8th grader in an HISD middle school, I take this pretty personally.

    I saw something a while back that said if Austin ISD didn’t have to pay Robin Hood dollars, they could cut the average tax bill there by $1300 while increasing the amount spent on education. The worst thing about Robin Hood is that the districts can’t spend money that’s necessary, because the State takes all of the money over a certain arbitrary amount. Austin ISD had to buy computers with bind money, because their M&O budget is so constrained by recapture. That’s jsut bad policy.

  5. Terrance Jewett says:

    If you had a income tax INSTEAD of a property tax then each student in the state would receive the same resources. No more Robin Hood. Just make a flatter rate tax and be done with it.

  6. Ross says:

    Income tax is prohibited by the state constitution, and requires a statewide vote to change. That won’t happen, because then the rich would have to pay their real share of the costs to run the state. And we can’t have that.

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