The Richardson ISD is asking voters to approve a tax increase. I am voting YES for many, many reasons, but there are some that, all by themselves, are enough to convince me to vote YES.
Reason #2: State's Share Is Going Down
Note that this graph does not need to show spending in absolute dollars. It does not need to show spending per student. It does not need to adjust for growing enrollment. It does not need to adjust for inflation. It does not need to pick a baseline year to draw historical contrasts. All it needs to convince me that a local tax hike is needed, is show how the burden of funding public schools is divided between the State and local property owners. It's a partnership, but this graph plainly shows that the state legislature is pushing more and more of the burden onto local property owners. When local school districts can no longer count on the State to carry its share of the burden, local property owners have no choice but to pick up the slack themselves. Unfortunately, eventually that means a tax increase.
The State funding system is perverse. The formula actually reduces State funding as property values increase. Sure, tax revenue goes up as property values go up, but the State keeps most of the extra revenue from rising property values, not your local schools. The sure way to increase local funding is with what the formula calls "increased tax effort", that is, by raising the tax rate.
It's a win-win situation for state legislators like Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. Rising property values mean more tax revenue, with that money collected by the local school district but flowing to the State. Austin gets the money for Dan Patrick's pet projects like private school vouchers, and the local school districts get the blame for rising taxes. State legislators love how that formula works. Why expect them to change it?
I don't like that graph above. But it is what it is. The state legislators count on the voters not figuring out what's going on. Until voters do catch on and start electing candidates who actually support public schools instead of just saying they do in their campaign ads, that graph is not going to get more balanced. We might not be able to control the legislators already in office, but we can control how we as a community respond to the negligence in Austin. Vote YES for public schools on November 6.
P.S. If you vote a straight-party ticket, you still have to search out and vote separately for the RISD tax ratification election. Don't accidentally overlook it.