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The Texas Senate last week unanimously approved a $16.5 billion package to lower property taxes and inject billions of dollars into public schools.
As reported by the Texas Tribune, the three separate bills require the state to send at least $5.38 billion to public schools while at the same time raising the state’s homestead exemption from $40,000 to $70,000, with an additional $20,000 exemption for homeowners 65 and older. According to the Tribune, the proposal would save an average homeowner $341 on their annual tax bill. Seniors would save an additional $227 annually.
In exchange for the increased state funding, local school property tax rates would be cut by 7 cents for every $100 in appraised value. An owner of a $300,000 home paying the state’s average school tax rate would save $210 annually in property taxes.
“This is off-the-charts, incredible property tax relief for millions of Texas homeowners,” said state Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston.
Deadline to register for May 6 election nears
The deadline for eligible Texas voters to register in order to vote in the May 6 local elections is just around the corner, Secretary of State Jane Nelson announced.
“If you are not already registered to vote in the upcoming local elections – there is still time! Make sure to submit your voter registration application to your county voter registrar by Thursday, April 6 so that you can have an opportunity to make your voice heard in your local community,” Nelson said.
Check with the local elections office to learn which municipalities, school districts and other entities are holding elections. Early voting begins on April 24 and ends on May 2, with Election Day on May 6.
School choice hearing draws hundreds
A Senate Education Committee meeting on proposals that would give parents public money for private schools drew about 200 people and stretched past midnight last Thursday, the Statesman reported.
Supporters spoke about allowing school choice and financial relief for parents of private school students, while opponents warned against siphoning money from public districts, lack of oversight and using taxpayer money for religious schools.
State Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, is sponsoring Senate Bill 8, which would provide $8,000 per child for private school, homeschooling, tutoring or other educational costs. He told the Statesman that education savings accounts would not hurt public schools.
“We can lift up public schools and teachers like never before,” Creighton said. “We can reconcile both very easily.”
Opponents say the proposal would harm public schools.
“For the state to statutorily tarnish the reputation of our public schools by directly putting dollars to private entities, that would further the vicious cycle,” Francesca Fraga Leahy, an Austin mother attending the hearing, said.