School finance plan draws mixed reviews
It has its friends, but finds foes in doctors, lawyers
— reported by the Houston Chronicle
Gov. Rick Perry touted his plan to cut school property taxes before a friendly audience Wednesday. Now comes the hard part — convincing a politically divided Legislature to approve it despite the protests of lawyers, doctors and others who don’t like it.
Perry wants to pay for school property tax cuts with higher cigarette taxes and a new, broad-based business tax. He formally announced his plan at a news conference with members of the bipartisan commission that devised it in attendance, along with some business lobbyists who support it.
“If Texans want a fairer and broader business tax without loopholes, a stable source of revenue for our children’s education, and substantial property tax relief, then we’ve got a plan that works for them,” Perry said at a family-owned building supply store in south Austin that pays the current franchise tax.
The plan would cut school operating taxes by as much as one-third in the next two years, for a total reduction of $5.9 billion. The state would raise that amount of money for education through an expanded business tax and a $1-per-pack increase in the cigarette tax, which currently is 41 cents. About $1 billion in surplus state money and strengthened tax compliance measures also would help pay for the property tax cut.