Texas planning 5 percent increase in property taxes to pay for schools

FILE - Classroom photo (KXAN File Photo)
FILE - Classroom photo (KXAN File Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Education Agency is expecting a five percent rise in local property taxes to pay for schools in the years ahead.

Texas public schools are funded by sales tax driven general revenue through the state government and local property taxes placed on homeowners in each school district.

Ahead of the 2017 legislative session, the Texas Education Agency made public its budget request. In the request, the foundation school program will go from a $42.3 billion to a $40.2 billion expense. The basic amount each student receives will remain just more than $5,100, but more will be paid by local property tax dollars.

A TEA spokesperson says this is only the first draft of what will eventually become the budget. Lawmakers go into session January to decide what agency receives what amount of money, but this is a trend that’s grown over the years and has irked many lawmakers.

The Austin Independent School District approved a $1.3 billion budget.They lowered your tax rate by a penny, but the rising values mean houses cost more and Austinites will pay more in taxes.

For the typical Austin home, $300 more. It’s another reason many say it’s getting hard to find affordable housing in Austin.

Casey and Adam Hughes were married just five months ago. While their friends moved into houses or apartments, increasing home prices and taxes led these newlyweds to choose an RV as their home in East Austin.

“The price of property here seems to be thirty to fifty percent more than other cities that we looked at,” said Adam.

They tell me owning the RV and paying for the space costs as much as rent would be just a block away.

“Consolidate your stuff,” Casey jokes, still getting used to the small space. “Well before moving in here we had to get rid of a lot of things.”

“Finances are at the top of the priority list right now. Before we take on other responsibilities like having kids and maybe a dog in the near future,” said Adam.

Many lawmakers have wanted to change the “Robin Hood” plan since it was first created in the 1990s. Under the system, property-rich school districts give money to the state to help prop up poorer districts. But as each year goes by the state is relying more and more on property taxes to fund public schools.

Local property taxes used for public schools are now up 44 percent from 2008 to 2017. During that time, state funding has only increased seven percent.

 

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