AUSTIN - Gov. Rick Perry is leading a “full-court press” to get the 76 votes needed in the House to pass a $4.3 billion tax package that would lower school property taxes by one-third.
Ah, it MUST be an election year, because the maneuvering over what to do with the state’s $8.2 billion surplus is reaching a fever pitch. Governor Rick Perry, the Pride of Paint Creek, is trying to round up the votes he needs to force his property ta relief plan through the Legislature. Who says you can’t buy re-election, eh?
Rather than come up with a sound plan that doesn’t risk doing long-term damage to the state’s financial health, Governor Goodhair is determined to push through a poorly-considered property tax relief bill so he can go out on the campaign trail and thump his chest. What he doesn’t seem to be considering, however, is what the long-term effect of reducing property taxes will be- outside of purchasing enough goodwill among the sheeple of Texas to ensure his re-election.
Even though the Legislature is in a special session to deal with the issue of school funding (and property taxes fund education in Texas), it seems that precious little is being accomplished to fix the problem of how Texas pays for educating it’s children. Of course, as Governor Goodhair will tell you, he can’t do anything about fixing the education mess in Texas if he’s not re-elected. Priorities, don’tcha know??
House Democrats, meanwhile, advocated tax savings in addition to what the governor is proposing. They proposed that the mandatory homestead exemption be tripled from the current $15,000 to $45,000. The homestead exemption increase would cost about $1.5 billion a year.
Along with a coalition of education groups, the Democrats also called for more education spending.
Rep. Scott Hochberg, D-Houston, noted that the House last year set aside $3 billion for a teacher pay raise and other school initiatives that didn’t pass. That $3 billion is part of an $8 billion surplus that lawmakers potentially could spend during the special session.
“I’m flabbergasted … that we can do a school funding session that’s not about schools,” said Hochberg.
Indeed. It would seem that this special session is more about facilitating Governor Goodhair’s re-election than it is about dealing with the very real school funding crisis. It’s all about leadership…or in this case, a complete lack of it.