Friday, December 29, 2006

Looks Like Perry Didn't Fix School Funding

In the last legislative session, Rick Perry shoved through a new school funding plan. He claimed that the plan would not only fix the hated "Robin Hood" school financing [where richer school districts give up a share of their revenue to help poorer districts], but would also significantly reduce property taxes.

We learned right away that there would be no real property tax savings for citizens of Texas. When the local taxing entities learned they could not raise the tax rate, they simply raised the appraisal value of taxable property. The result was that Texans saw no property tax relief.

Now, it looks like the almost universally hated "Robin Hood" school financing plan is alive and well also. Although Perry's plan was not supposed to do away with "Robin Hood" altogether, it was supposed to make huge cuts in the amount of money the richer districts have to return to the state. Now it looks like even that is not going to happen. There are some cuts, but they are not nearly as large as promised by the governor.

There are four school districts in Tarrant county that have been having to pay out money for poorer districts. Here's what their savings are going to look like:

* Northwest ISD payments will be 3.1% less than last year.

* Carroll ISD will be 7.8% less than last year.

* Grapevine-Colleyville ISD will be 10% less than last year.

* HEB ISD is the only district that will see a drop of a significant percentage. Their payment will be 79% less than last year. But HEB's payments were never anywhere near as large as those of the other school districts. They've always been much nearer the break-even point.

So it looks like the governor's much-touted plan is a failure on all counts. He has not solved school financing, and he has not cut taxes. All he's done is piss off a lot of smokers and businessmen by imposing new taxes -- but the problems he was supposed to solve are still there.

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