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Posts Tagged ‘property taxes’

Collier’s sales tax criticism of Hegar makes the news

That’s how you do it. Democrat Mike Collier, a certified public accountant from Houston, will start airing television ads criticizing opponent Glenn Hegar, a Republican state senator from Katy, for his support to phase out property taxes and increase state sales taxes. Collier and Hegar are vying to replace outgoing Comptroller Susan Combs, a Republican. […]

Collier hammers Hegar for property tax idiocy

Good. During the recent Republican primary for state comptroller, state Sen. Glenn Hegar repeatedly endorsed eliminating local property taxes in Texas. Borrowing from GOP opponent Debra Medina’s 2010 playbook, Hegar urged a shift to sales taxes to make up the more than $40 billion a year of revenue that cities, counties, school districts and other […]

Harris County threatens to sue Harris County Appraisal District

That headline may sound dry, but this is a big deal. Worried about the erosion of the tax base, county officials said Wednesday that they may consider suing the Harris County Appraisal District over concerns it is undervaluing certain business properties at the expense of homeowners. Officials said HCAD’s Appraisal Review Board in recent years […]

School finance trial do-over set to start soon

Once more into the breach. Hundreds of school districts in North Texas and across the state will resume their courtroom battle over funding in January, arguing that new money and reduced testing did little to fix Texas’ school finance system. State and legislative leaders contend changes they approved this year have blunted the districts’ arguments. […]

Precinct analysis: The Dome and the jail

Now that precinct data is out, the Chron has an updated take on what sunk the Astrodome referendum. Overall, 53.4 percent of Harris County voters rejected the bond issue that would have renovated the long-vacant Dome into a convention and exhibit space. In Houston, 50.1 percent of the voters turned it down, while in unincorporated […]

Theories abound about why the Dome referendum failed

I have three things to say about this. University of Houston political scientist Brandon Rottinghaus said the outcome of both county bond propositions, as well as the Katy stadium, is indicative of resistance among conservative voters to big-ticket spending items they believe are not necessary, or, in the case of the Dome, that could be […]

Mostly good news for Apollo

That’s the story so far. A three-year, multimillion-dollar experiment to improve 20 struggling HISD schools yielded big gains in math and limited progress in reading, according to partial results of a study released Wednesday. Now, Superintendent Terry Grier and the school board face decisions over what, if any, changes to make to the district’s nationally […]

HISD board approves 3-cent tax increase

It was a close vote. Property owners in the Houston Independent School District will see their tax bills rise after trustees Thursday narrowly approved the first tax rate increase for operations in a dozen years. The board voted 4-3 to raise the tax rate by 3 cents to fund a budget that includes raises for […]

Hall’s tax troubles, again

This isn’t new news, but it’s getting a lot more play now. Top mayoral challenger Ben Hall agreed to pay the IRS more than $680,000 in back taxes and penalties earlier this year, court documents show. On Jan. 16, less than a week before Hall made his first campaign expenditures as a mayoral candidate, the […]

Early to Rise appeal denied

That pretty much wraps it up, for now at least. A controversial 1-cent property tax to buoy local preschools will not be on the November ballot following a Houston appeals court ruling. The 14th Court of Appeals, in an opinion issued late Thursday, rejected the Harris County School Readiness Corp.’s lawsuit to force County Judge […]

The law and the Early To Rise petition process

Much has been made about the obscurity of the state law that allows for the petition process that the Early To Rise folks have followed to put an item on the ballot that would raise money for pre-K education in Harris County. The Chron takes a closer look at the statutes in question and the […]

Time for more information about Early To Rise

What Lisa Falkenberg says. They’ve turned over more than 150,000 signatures in favor of putting an early education tax on the Harris County ballot in November. Now the folks behind the Early to Rise campaign need to turn over the details. Actually, they should have turned them over a while ago. The well-meaning folks who […]

Astrodome referendum officially on the ballot

It’s been a long, strange trip, but at last you will get to vote on the fate of the Astrodome. The Commissioners Court on Tuesday unanimously voted to place a bond election for up to $217 million to convert the iconic stadium into a massive, street-level convention hall and exhibit space, saying residents should take […]

Astrodome referendum headed for the ballot

If you’ve been waiting for the chance to vote on the fate of the Astrodome, your wait will soon be over. Commissioners Court next Tuesday is expected to approve a measure asking voters to authorize the county to spend as much as $220 million to transform the vacant stadium, County Budget Chief Bill Jackson said […]

Sheriff Garcia endorses the Early To Rise campaign

It makes sense that he would. The group attempting to get a 1-cent tax hike on the November ballot to bolster early childhood education programs got a hearty endorsement from Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia on Wednesday, and announced it had cleared the first major hurdle in putting its initiative to voters this fall. James […]

Petitioning for Early To Rise

This arrived in my inbox a couple of days ago: With only two weeks to go, we really need your help! We are working to get an initiative on the ballot in November 2013 to fund the Early to Rise Program. The Early to Rise is a program designed to help young children up to age 5 get […]

HISD budgets for teacher pay raise and more Apollo

Whether that will mean a tax hike, and if so how much, remains undetermined. Houston ISD employees will see a 2 percent pay raise and many schools will receive more money to help struggling students under the budget that trustees approved on a 6-3 vote Monday. Left unsettled was whether property owners will face an […]

Seniors get a tax cut from Council

Good for them. Houston City Council voted to provide property tax relief to seniors Wednesday, one of many votes at a marathon meeting at which council unanimously approved a $4.5 billion budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The city’s exemption for homeowners 65 and older will rise from $70,862 to $80,000 thanks […]

HISD contemplates tax hike

It’s not as much as they once thought they would raise them, since enough money was restored by the Legislature to stave off the need to raise taxes for that purpose. Superintendent Terry Grier’s budget proposal, released Monday, would increase the tax rate by 2 cents and would expand his Apollo school reform program, a […]

Would you pay more for pre-K in Harris County?

You might get the chance to vote on it. The recently formed Harris County School Readiness Corp., a group whose membership includes former Houston first lady Andrea White, is circulating a petition calling for the placement of an item on the next election ballot that would increase the county property tax rate by 1 cent, […]

Budget time in Houston

Houston City Council has begun the process of debating Mayor Parker’s budget for the next fiscal year by proposing 60 amendments to it. Parker’s budget would spend $4.5 billion, including fee-supported enterprise funds such as the aviation department and utility systems, and is a 6.4 percent increase over the current fiscal year. The proposed general […]

So where does the school finance lawsuit stand?

Though Judge John Dietz issued a ruling in favor of the plaintiffs in the school finance lawsuit back in February, he still hasn’t written his full decision yet. That’s because he wanted to see what the Legislature did this session, so he could take it into account in his opinion. Well, the session is over […]

From the “Tax breaks for me but not for thee” department

There are two types of people in Texas: Those for whom the tax code is written to favor, and everybody else. The Dallas Country Club, not a place usually thought of as needing a huge tax break, used a quirk in state law to reduce its taxable value by nearly half. Valero, one of the […]

Ben Hall’s tax problem

Oops. A campaign video shows Ben Hall, the former city attorney who is now running for mayor, sitting in a classroom amid a group of schoolchildren as his voiceover talks about the importance of education. “Our children are our future,” Hall says, with music swelling in the background. “They deserve the very best education that […]

On HCAD and rigging the system

This Houston Press cover story on the Harris County Appraisal District is provocative, to say the least. A months-long investigation by the Houston Press finds that Brookfield isn’t the only mega-dollar company that’s sitting pretty with a momentous tax break. According to a June 2012 Service Employees International Union report, corporate giants such as Chevron, […]

Grier asks for Apollo money

It is his signature program. Houston ISD Superintendent Terry Grier on Thursday lobbied the school board for at least $17 million to expand his Apollo school reform effort, noting new research showing its benefits. Grier is facing resistance from some trustees – though likely not enough to defeat his plan – as they consider a […]

It’s going to be a good year for the tax assessor

That should make it a good year for the entities that depend on property tax revenues, as Loren Steffy notes. When Williams Tower sold for $412 million recently, the new owners may have expected a break on property taxes. After all, the iconic west Houston skyscraper was valued on the tax rolls at the time […]

Why do we give tax breaks to country clubs?

As you know, I’ve talked before about sunsetting tax expenditures. Sens. John Carona and Rodney Ellis have filed a bill to require a periodic review of the many exemptions, exceptions, and other special cases in the tax code, with the aim of requiring legislative approval to renew or extend them. This is a good idea […]

An opponent for the Controller

Big Jolly reports on a new candidate. There are two powerful elected positions in the City of Houston: Mayor and City Controller. So naturally I was curious when I heard that someone was going to challenge the incumbent Controller Ronald Green. Meet Bill Frazer. The press release announcing his candidacy stated: “The Controller is an […]

More on sunsetting tax expenditures

I say again, this is a good idea that really needs to happen. The Texas tax code is rich with tax breaks. There are tax breaks for industries relocating to the state and for anyone with an Internet connection. Tax exemptions for groceries and bottled water. Tax holidays for back-to-school supplies. Tax exemptions for golf […]

Senate committee restores some money to public education

Emphasis on the “some”. Texas public schools would get back a chunk of the $5.4 billion in state funding they lost two years ago under a budget proposal adopted by the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. But they probably should not expect much more than the $1.5 billion the committee added to the 2014-15 state […]

School districts are still a long way from getting relief

School districts may have gotten a favorable ruling in the latest school finance lawsuit, and if it survives appeal it could have far-reaching effects on the current system, but that doesn’t mean that things will get better for them now. If anything, they’re likely to get worse first. “It’s pretty bleak for next year,” said […]

This time it’s different

Why is this school finance ruling different from all other school finance rulings? For one thing, it was way more comprehensive. The changes needed to correct the constitutional violations [Judge John] Dietz identified could comprise the most far-reaching overhaul of education policy the state has enacted in more than 40 years, said Lynn Moak, a […]

School finance system ruled unconstitutional

Surely no one is surprised by this. The system Texas uses to fund public schools violates the state’s constitution by not providing enough money and failing to distribute the money in a fair way, a judge ruled Monday in a landmark decision that could force the Legislature to overhaul the way it pays for education. […]