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Business groups endorse a Yes on recapture re-vote

It’s a very different campaign this time around.

The Greater Houston Partnership and other local organizations whose members own some of the city’s priciest commercial real estate have come out in support of a ballot measure over whether the Houston Independent School District should pay its share of property taxes to the state as part of the so-called Robin Hood system of school finance.

The business coalition, which also includes Central Houston, the Houston Building Owners and Management Association, Uptown Houston, the Houston Business Realty Coalition and the “C” Club, said the school district should pay the $77.5 million it owes to the state.

If not, it faces having $8 billion of the city’s highest-valued commercial properties permanently reassigned to another school district, a process referred to as “detachment.”

The detachment process would affect more than 80 commercial properties in the Galleria, Greenway Plaza, and downtown Houston, the coalition said in a statement Monday afternoon. While the value of commercial property slated for detachment this year is $8 billion, HISD estimates it would climb to $22 billion in 2018.

“No one in our community wins under detachment,” Greater Houston Partnership president and CEO Bob Harvey said in the statement. “We are encouraging a vote in support of Proposition 1 so that Houston businesses can continue to help fund Houston’s public schools and its future leaders.”

BOMA supported recapture last November, one of not too many groups or officials to do so. (If the other groups took a position last time, I don’t know what it was.) Very simply, most of the endorsements I saw last year were against the recapture, and most of the ones I am seeing now are in favor. In fact, as I was drafting this post, I saw an ad on TV (on ESPN during the Cubs-Pirates game) in favor of the recapture referendum, paid for by a group called “Houston Taxpayers for Quality Education”. None of this is any guarantee of success for the Yes side – this whole election is too much of an oddball to feel secure in any prediction – but for what it’s worth, the most consistent message I have seen is a message of voting for recapture.

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5 Comments

  1. Leslie says:

    I am upset at trustee Jones. She has paraded around in the last 7 days (sometimes giving 3 speeches in one night to different progressive groups) installing fears in people by saying recapture money if paid by check goes to the general fund and that the money wouldn’t be used for education, this is NOT true and she has turned many peoples vote to against by this statement alone. I found that the wiring information showed that the checks get put straight into the TEA bank account not the general fund. I personally called the TEA myself and asked were the checks actual go and what they are used for here is the response I was given:

    Hi Leslie,

    The chapter 41 recapture payments are a part of the foundation school monthly payments that are dispersed to school districts and charter schools. The payments are not combined with general revenue used for other purposes.

    Please let me know if you should have any additional questions.

    Thank you,

    Kim

    Kimberley Wall

    Texas Education Agency

    I wish someone would expose Jones for her untruthful statements to voters, this isn’t one of her court rooms to convince a jury it is our local children’s education at stake. If this was so important to her where has she been the last 2 months?

  2. Ross says:

    Jones is not untruthful on this. The money goes into the TEA account, and then the funding of TEA from the general fund is reduced by the same amount. In the end, the money effectively goes to the general fund

  3. Leslie says:

    Ross you believe that the TEA lied then? Jones literally stated the money would not go to education but she provided no proof.

    Texas is one of only four states with a biennial budget and biennial legislative session. The legislature convenes in January of an odd-numbered year and writes a budget for the two-year period that begins that following September, covering the two upcoming state fiscal years. Money is allotted and if less revenue comes in than was originally forecast, the resulting budget shortfall must be dealt with by the legislature before tackling the next budget. If more revenue comes in than is appropriated, the state ends that biennium with a balance. When they made the budget they already estimate what part of the FSP will be funded by recapture for 2017 they predicted 4.9% of the FSP would be funded by money from recapture.

    http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/Documents/Publications/Presentation/3535_Recapture.pdf

    The Foundation School Program (FSP) is the state program that establishes the amount of state and local funding due to school districts under Texas school finance law and that provides the state share of this funding to districts. The program is administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The FSP, in its current form, is meant to ensure that all school districts, regardless of property wealth, receive “substantially equal access to similar revenue per student at similar tax effort, considering all state and local tax revenues of districts after acknowledging all legitimate student and district cost differences.”

  4. Ross says:

    Leslie, the TEA didn’t quite lie, but they didn’t tell the whole truth. The quotes you’ve used prove that recapture reduces general fund money to education. If recapture makes up 4.9% of the FSP, the general fund requirements are reduced by that amount, which effectively makes recapture general fund money. There shouldn’t be any recapture – the State should fund education as necessary, entirely from the general fund, or other sources. TEA can accurately say the recapture money isn’t commingled with general fund money used for non-education purposes, but that’s disingenuous at best.

    Jolanda Jones isn’t someone I would ever vote for, or want to be around, but she is very smart, well educated, and it is generally pointless to argue with her.

  5. Leslie says:

    The thing is no one ever would know if the FSP would be almost 5% less if there was no such thing as recapture, but everyone needs to stop acting like recapture doesn’t exist in the budget, it does and unless a lawmaker changes it, which cant even happen for another 2 years we cant keep acting like it wont be projected in the biennial budget. The FSP account will already have a shortfall for 2017 if the check goes to the state because the projection was suppose to be 166 mil from hisd. I personally do not know how the state handles deficits in the FSP account