February 11, 2018
To the Editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley tells a bold-faced lie about the state budget and local property taxes and is hailed as a “truth teller” by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram?
Let’s set the record straight. Local property tax rates are set by locally elected officials. Period. They are not determined by an informational rider in the state budget as Judge Whitley dishonestly suggests. He well knows our school finance formula dictates that local property tax revenue go into the system first, with state funding added on top. This has been the case since the 1940s. Local property tax collections dictate the state’s share of education funding – not vice versa.
TEA Rider 3 lists the Comptroller estimates for local property tax collections. Actual collections are determined at the local level, and the formula is trued up at the end of each budget cycle. This estimate is a projection, not a target. And by no means is it a directive for local governments to raise property taxes. Judge Whitley knows this. His speech was not “unplugged.” It was uninformed at best and willfully misleading at worst.
When one considers all funding sources, our current budget increased education funding by $5.2 billion. Whether at the state or local level, Texas taxpayers are footing this bill.
We care about our children’s education. We are concerned about rising property taxes. We would hope that state and local elected officials would work together to ensure that our children all receive a quality education and that Texans are not taxed out of their homes in the process.
The Texas Commission on School Finance is actively conducting an in-depth review of our school finance formulas to ensure that we have an equitable education system that prepares our students for success. The musings of a county judge with zero responsibility over public education are not going to help us get there.
The Tarrant County Texas Senate Delegation
Senator Jane Nelson, Chair, Senate Finance Committee
Senator Kelly Hancock, Chair, Senate Business and Commerce Committee
Senator Brian Birdwell, Chair, Senate Nominations Committee
Senator Konni Burton, Vice Chair, Senate Administration Committee