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Posts Tagged ‘property taxes’

We’re still lousy at funding schools

In case you were wondering. Texas still ranks in the bottom third of states in spending per pupil in the U.S., with essentially no change in either amount or standing, a new study shows. The finding doesn’t help, and could undercut, the state’s position in a long-running school finance case. Figures compiled by the National […]

First look at how HISD will balance its budget

Seems to be fairly well-received. The Houston school district’s interim superintendent on Thursday rescinded his proposal to reduce funding for gifted students amid concerns from parents and board members. At the same time, Ken Huewitt proposed bolstering the budgets of schools with significant concentrations of low-income students, using $21 million from federal funds. Schools with […]

Turner announces his budget

From the inbox: Utilizing a shared sacrifice approach, Mayor Sylvester Turner today unveiled a proposed Fiscal Year 2017 General Fund budget that eliminates a projected $160 million shortfall that was the result of cost increases, voter imposed revenue limitations, a broken appraisal system and the economic downturn. The budget totals $2.3 billion, which is about […]

Have I mentioned lately that the revenue cap is stupid public policy?

Because it is. Sales taxes are Houston’s second-largest source of revenue for the general fund, which pays for most core services. Just as concerning for city officials, however, was more news about the city’s largest general fund revenue source: property taxes. Mayor Sylvester Turner, as he did in February, criticized what he said is an […]

Doing more to get tax breaks

We’ll see about this. Companies seeking city tax breaks soon could get a boost if they commit to providing additional community benefits – such as workforce housing, paid internships for low-income students or jobs for those who previously were incarcerated – as part of a retooling of Houston’s tax abatement program before City Council on […]

What kind of ruling might we expect in the school finance case?

KUHF explores the possibilities. Four major scenarios to watch for: The Texas Supreme Court could not rule at all. Instead, it could send the case back to the lower court to see if the latest $2.5 billion dollars to the education budget solves the problem. “And the court could say, you know, we need more […]

HISD girds for budget cuts

Welcome to the job, Ken Huewitt. Isn’t this fun? Houston’s deputy superintendent on Thursday presented the school board with the deepest round of proposed budget cuts since 2011, leaving principals to decide between slashing staff, supplies, field trips or other activities. Ken Huewitt, who transitions to interim superintendent next week, called for teachers’ jobs to […]

Things are tough all over

HISD faces a big deficit: Houston ISD leaders are bracing for a projected $107 million budget shortfall that, in a worst-case scenario, could prompt the district to slash jobs. During the school board meeting Thursday, however, officials pledged to try keep cuts away from schools. “We get it,” Ken Huewitt, the district’s deputy superintendent and […]

Exxon Mobil fighting its tax bill

Of course they are. Exxon Mobil is fighting the Harris County Appraisal District over the $1.04 billion value placed on its sprawling new office complex in Spring, just south of The Woodlands. The oil giant, which has been guarded about the campus project, would not provide its own estimation of the property’s value. But its […]

Selecting a successor for El Franco Lee: What I’m looking for

Building on what we discussed last time, what am I, as one of maybe 100 people who has the privilege of selecting a Democratic nominee to take El Franco Lee’s place on the November ballot – and most likely, on Commissioners Court for the foreseeable future – looking for? What qualities do I want that […]

Republicans sure are hoping to get a bailout on school finance

Am I the only one who thinks that a lot of this sounds like wishful thinking? The Texas Supreme Court may punt in a far-reaching school finance case, asking a lower court to assess the Legislature’s latest efforts on public schools. If it does, a new law may reduce the influence of trial judges elected […]

Two school finance stories

Tough times in the oil patch mean tough times for school districts in the oil patch. The U.S. shale boom flooded the state’s public schools with a gusher of cash, but that windfall is disappearing nearly as fast as it arrived, making some newly wealthy districts nervous about their financial outlook amid a crude slump […]

Keeping an eye on Katy ISD

This could be interesting. Some of the details of George Scott’s “shadow school board” are still that – shadowy. But as the conservative blogger has assembled a group to meet regularly to reach its own conclusions about the business of the fast-growing Katy ISD board, his mission is clear: to use public data to take […]

The Woodlands versus its neighbors

I have three things to say about this. The Woodlands prides itself on being the best-planned community around, with tree-studded neighborhoods, miles of trails, sprawling parks and a town center with a distinctly urban feel. Across Montgomery County, however, some see The Woodlands as a snooty, well-off enclave that grouses about its tax dollars subsidizing […]

When might we get a Supreme Court ruling on school finance?

When they’re damn good and ready is the usual answer for Supreme Court rulings, but in the case of school finance lawsuits they usually act with some measure of speed. Given past rulings and politics — three justices on the nine-member, all-Republican court are up for re-election next year — the consensus among experts and […]

Once again to the Supreme Court for school finance

Like deja vu all over again, and again and again and… The Texas Supreme Court is again faced with determining whether the state’s method of funding public schools is unconstitutional, the latest in a series of school finance challenges stretching back more than 30 years. In oral arguments Tuesday, lawyers representing the state argued that […]

Supreme Court to hear school finance appeal in September

Mark your calendars. The Texas Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Sept. 1 in the long-running case challenging the state’s school-finance system. “We are very pleased that the court is moving so expeditiously,” attorney David Thompson, representing the Houston Independent School District, Fort Bend ISD and dozens of others, said Friday. “We think it’s a […]

Meet your Constitutional amendments

A pretty uninspiring bunch, if you ask me. Now that the dust has settled on the 84th Texas Legislature, voters are getting the first official look at which constitutional amendments they will be voting on come November. Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos on Wednesday took the last step to place seven propositions on this […]

Compromise property tax appraisal bill signed

It’s better than nothing, though not by that much. Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that partially closes a loophole that allowed a powerful oil company to take back millions in tax dollars from Houston-area school districts while draining hundreds of millions more from local government coffers. The measure that won final approval, HB […]

Budget deal

What Christopher Hooks says. Texans, you can put down your pitchforks and douse your torches: The edibles you’ve squirreled away in your emergency bunkers can be safely consumed. Life can begin anew. The tax cut war between House and Senate has been resolved, which means that barring a catastrophic screw-up—say, Comptroller Glenn Hegar realizing he […]

Where the education reform bills stand

As we know, the attempt to take a first stab at school finance reform did not make it to the House floor. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t some action on school-related issues. This Chron story from the weekend recapped a couple of the major bills that did make it through. Lawmakers likely could have killed […]

Mayor Parker’s last budget

Here it is. Despite sounding the alarm for months that a multimillion dollar deficit could force service cuts, new fees and employee layoffs, Mayor Annise Parker rolled out a $5.1 billion city budget on Tuesday that largely preserves spending levels by drawing on one-time funding sources and higher-than-expected revenues to plug the gap. Parker warned […]

Three bad bills

Bad bill #1: State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, has been trying for months to pass legislation that would make it tougher for local entities to bring in more tax revenue by taking advantage of rising property values. On Thursday, he managed to add language to a bill from state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, that could […]

Trouble in tax cut paradise

What if you propose a tax cut but the beneficiaries of it say they’d rather the money went to something else? Major business groups pushed back Friday against a multi­billion-dollar package of tax cuts advancing in the Texas Senate, calling it inequitable and saying state needs should be funded before lawmakers consider tax relief. The […]

Compromise bill to reform property tax appraisals

Better than nothing, I guess, but not clear to me yet how much better. State lawmakers are looking to partly close a tax loophole that has allowed big companies to drain tens of millions of dollars from local government coffers in recent years, but any reforms that pass may still not end the legal battles […]

Reforming property tax appraisal protests

From the inbox: Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) releases the following statement regarding Senate Bill 1084, his bill to create a fairer property tax appraisal system in Texas: “Homeowners and local communities across Texas are shouldering an unfair burden when large commercial property owners manipulate the property tax system to drive down their property values and […]

Voodoo economics

Also known as Dan Patrick’s budgetary contortions. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, joined by the Texas Senate’s lead budget writers, announced “a new bold proposal” Wednesday morning to allow lawmakers to cut property taxes and pay down the state’s debt without busting the state’s politically charged spending cap. “Gosh darn, we know our businesses and taxpayers […]

Revenue cap will stay in place

Boo, hiss. Houston voters will not be given the option this fall of passing a property tax hike after a City Council committee on Thursday unanimously recommended leaving the city’s much-maligned revenue cap alone. […] The topic has received less attention recently, however, as projections show the cap will mean a projected $24 million less […]

We can always pay for tax cuts later

Item One: Texas House leaders said Monday they can cut taxes by more than the $4 billion initially proposed by their Senate counterparts, upping the ante for the high-profile issue despite other looming big-ticket state needs. “We really believe that we ought to be able to do more than $4 billion in tax cuts here […]

State of the county 2015: Please cooperate more

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett makes his eighth State if the County address. In his eighth State of the County address, Emmett had choice words for both Austin – which is weighing a reduction in property taxes that form the backbone of county revenue – and for Houston – which has adopted a strategy of […]

Tax cuts >>> public education

Well, what did you expect? Senate budget writers have enjoyed praise from conservatives for their focus on tax cuts, but they’re about to get an earful from educators who think their promises could cost Texas public school students. The starting budgets of the state House and Senate, released last month, are similar on many fronts, […]

The games our tax system plays

I find this just fascinating. It’s been described as bribery, taxation without representation and a shady political maneuver. Others have called it an innovative way to deal with budgetary problems and get things done. Ever since Texas lawmakers made it more difficult for cities to absorb suburbs into their boundaries 15 years ago, Houston has […]

The Senate’s opening budget

Could be worse, I guess. Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson presented a $205.1 billion two-year base budget Tuesday morning, vowing to provide property tax cuts that Texans “actually feel” while keeping the state’s economy humming along. The Senate budget is $3 billion larger than the $202.4 billion House budget that Speaker Joe Straus released nearly […]

How the appraisal game is rigged

The Observer tells the tale of how we got to where we are with the appraisal process and how easy it is for the big boys to get their taxes drastically reduced. At the heart of Valero’s lawsuits in Moore County was a complicated question: What is a refinery worth? For that matter, what is […]