Monday, November 28, 2005

More On The Ruling And What Lies Ahead

The Supreme Court Ruling last week to uphold the property tax portion of Judge John Dietz's ruling does nothing to change the goals of the vast majority of the Republican Party in Texas when it comes to education.

I see their goals as:

1.End "Robin Hood"
2.Get rid of the moderates in their party
3.Pro-vouchers
4.Break the teacher's union (65% Ruse)
5.Starve public schools.

Like this Houston Chronicle article shows, Court has spoken: School system on verge of collapse, the majority opinion made every effort to try spur those in charge to put more money into education for the future, without actually saying those words:
"There is substantial evidence ... that the public education system has reached the point where continued improvement will not be possible absent significant change, whether that change take the form of increased funding, improved efficiencies or better methods of education," the court wrote.
But of course a statement like this is again turned into a folly by our governor. He doesn't believe it, even when it comes from his hand picked judges:
But whether the governor is committed to actually improving the schools remains to be seen. He says he is, but he also joined several other conservative spokespersons in praising the high court for reaffirming his belief that "simply pouring more money into the same system will not alleviate the property tax problem."
Here's my problem with that, "“..pouring more money into the same system..", makes it sound like we have an already bloated education budget, when the exact opposite is true. Take this from the recent Dave McNeeley article, Tax commission starts with arm tied back:
Some think Texas is over-spending on schools, and its people over-taxed. But the truth is Texas ranks well below the national average in spending on schools, and close to the bottom in state taxes per person.

Texas is one of just seven states with no income tax. (The others are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming.) That means we rely on two principal sources for most of our revenue: sales and property. Texas has the nation's fourth-highest sales tax, and is 15th in property taxes
He goes on to lay out his argument for a state income tax. But since nobody other than Eliot Shapleigh want to discuss it, what's going to happen?
OK, so without an income tax, what will the Sharp group do?

Since property taxpayers are already screaming, the only remaining broad-based tax to make up the difference is the sales tax. It may be expanded to take in services like attorneys' fees, and possibly the rate raised as well.

The commission will probably tinker with a franchise or business tax, at least to close gaping loopholes. And don't be surprised if there are attempts to revive gaming (that's gambling, folks).

Sen. Shapleigh says to raise the $24 billion additional he says is needed for good schools and property tax relief solely through raising the current state sales tax, unless it is broadened, from its current 6.25 cents per dollar to 17.3 cents. It would be far and away the highest sales tax in the country.

It will be interesting to see what the commission comes up with, and even more to see what happens to it in the Legislature.
It just brings to mind that old adage of sausage and legislation to mind, "There are two things you don'’t want to see being made - —sausage and legislation."








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