Unforced errors of over complication have hurt tax reform and school finance

Pratt on TexasAs I said before: Falling in love with a good idea in politics, without bringing everyone along with you as it develops, is almost always a bad idea doomed to failure. And the Texas Big Three leaders rode so out in front of voters, and legislators, on a sales tax swap you would have had to find their tracks to follow them.

Most of the errors this legislative session on HB/SB 2 and HB/SB3, the property tax reform efforts and school finance bills respectively, have been unforced errors. In fact, being too clever by half has been a common theme.

The Rube Goldberg approach

From 2010 to 2015, just half a decade, local property taxes in Texas have grown faster than median income by two and-a-third percent (2.33%) making it inarguable that local government growth has outpaced economic growth.

Over the past twenty years (1995-2015), as Texas was the nation’s leader in job creation, locally levied property taxes increased over two hundred and twenty seven percent – 227.16% to be exact.

During those two decades special services district taxes more than doubled (102% growth); city tax levies grew by 72%; county tax levies grew by 69%, and; school district taxes, which make up the bulk of taxpayers’ property tax bills, grew by 42%.

Reform the system to give voters a substantial and direct say in local property tax increases. Over complicating solutions by chaining one tax bill to a school finance bill and the other gimmicks within the bills are the unforced errors, the blunders of the session.

The problem is simple and the bills addressing such should be equally simple.

What do you think?...

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