You can add this to the list of things schools might have to pay for that they don’t have the money to pay for.
Three environmental commissioners appointed by Gov. Rick Perry are considering whether to grant some of the nation’s largest refineries a tax refund of more than $135 million money Texas’ cash-strapped schools and other local governments have been counting on to help pay teachers and provide other public services.
The property tax refund would mean more pain for some communities after a year in which state lawmakers slashed spending on public schools to deal with a budget shortfall. Nearly half of the refund would be taken from public schools, and those in cities where the refineries are based would be hurt most.
“We were already cut at the knees as it is, but more cuts? It’s appalling,” said Patricia Gonzales, whose 13-year-old twins attend Park View Intermediate School in Pasadena, a refinery town just south of Houston. Gonzales is president of the school’s new parent-teacher organization, formed this summer after the state budget cuts.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is evaluating 16 requests for the refund, which concerns a piece of pollution control equipment. If granted, the refund total could add up to more than $135 million, according to county tax data and application documents analyzed by The Associated Press. If the commission grants the requests, at least 12 other refineries that have not sought a refund also could qualify.
The three-person commission last year expressed some support for the refund.
See here for the background. Remember that the TCEQ is populated entirely by Rick Perry cronies, so if this goes through, you know where the buck stops. A breakdown of which district would owe what is here. Note that in addition to school districts, counties would lose millions as well – Harris County could wind up taking a $50 million haircut. The refiners themselves claim the actual numbers would probably be much lower, but unless that actual number is zero, I say it’s too much.