FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 07/24/2017
MURR FILES LEGISLATION TO SLASH PROPERTY TAXES AND END ROBIN HOOD SCHOOL FINANCE
AUSTIN: Last week, the Texas Legislature convened in Austin for a special session called by Governor Abbott to address a series of pressing issues facing the state, including property tax reform. Viewing this as an opportunity to press for groundbreaking changes to the way in which we fund public schools, Representative Andrew Murr filed a piece of legislation that, if passed, will fully and finally end the “Robin Hood” school finance system and accomplish real property tax relief by cutting the average homeowner’s property tax bill by almost half.
House Bill 285 will eliminate the portion of a property owner’s tax bill dedicated to the maintenance and operation (M&O) of school districts and replace it with an increase in the state sales tax from 6.25% to 12%. On average across the state, the M&O school taxes accounts for roughly 43% of an owner’s property taxes (varying depending on locality). It is also the part of our property taxes that are subject to recapture, otherwise known as “Robin Hood.” While the legislation is intended to be revenue neutral, Rep. Murr said the economic impact of lifting the burden of financing schools off the shoulders of property owners will be tremendous.
“While Texas is generally viewed as a low-tax state, the dirty little secret is that our property tax rates are among the highest in the nation,” said Rep. Murr. “In fact, it’s only places like New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut who have higher rates than ours. Naturally this has an impact on the investment decisions made by everyone from large corporations all the way down to your next door neighbors.
“Slashing the property tax will provide tangible incentives for out-of-state businesses to relocate to Texas and for existing businesses to expand and create new jobs. It will give families greater opportunities for home ownership, while also protecting existing homeowners, particularly those on fixed-incomes, from skyrocketing appraisals and crippling tax bills.
“I hear from constituents every day about their property tax concerns. They want real relief, and while the state does not collect any property tax directly, meaning only local governments do, the state has an obvious tool at its disposal to affect change. That is by changing the way the state funds its constitutional obligations to provide public education for our children.”
One of the key features of HB 285 is that it will finally end the Robin Hood school finance system where local tax dollars from “property wealthy” school districts like Llano ISD, Hunt ISD, Crockett County CCD, and even Leakey ISD, are taken from their districts and redistributed across the state. Forty percent of the school districts in our Texas House district fall into this category, and last year over $27.4 million of their local tax dollars were sent to Austin to comply with this antiquated system.
Rep. Murr continued, “People have been complaining about Robin Hood for as long as I can remember, but it’s actually quite an easy problem to solve. It just requires the political will to say that enough is enough, and that we will no longer saddle property owners with an unjust tax system that punishes them for owning their little piece of Texas. It’s time to end the unfair practice of “wealth re-distribution” to pay for public schools.
“At the end of the day, this legislation is about more than fixing school finance, lowering taxes or stimulating the economy. Fundamentally it is about the right to property. Coming from a family of ranchers, the right to own our land is one of the most sacred rights we have as Texans and Americans. Yet given the fact that property taxes are never-ending and that our land will be taken from us if we stop paying, regardless of our means or economic situation, the reality is that we are just renting from the government. True private property rights will never be a reality in Texas as long as we have a property tax, and I believe HB 285 is a first, substantial step towards eliminating it for good.”