School finance and property tax reform is a top priority when the Texas Legislature reconvenes in Austin next month.
State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, is spearheading a rollback of property taxes and doing away with the "Robin Hood" method of school finance.
“We've got to put money in to help people on property tax relief, and we also have to insist that cities, counties and special districts don't go in and fill the vacuum with tax increases,” he says.
That's because Bettencourt says state coffers are overflowing with sales tax and oil monies.
“We know we have increased revenues because we're not raising the sales tax rate, but the economy is doing better,” he says. “We also have a tremendous increase in severance taxes.”
Bettencourt believes new House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, R-Angleton, has the support to get it done.
“When values go up, tax rates need to come down and that includes school taxes,” he says. “If we do that, we can start weening the state off the 'Robin Hood,' and all of that will be a good thing because I think we'll have money left over for other new programs.”