Let's work to reduce property taxes and increase school funding
Why are my school property taxes so high?
With higher home values and property taxes, don’t schools have enough money?
These are common questions I receive as a Trustee. And I totally understand why. We all feel the pain of higher property taxes. Right now, many of us are seeing the maximum increases year after year. We see it in our bank accounts and our personal budgets. Even when the LISD Board votes to reduce the property tax rate, our property tax bills are going up. Here’s why:
Higher appraisals = Higher property taxes. Home appraisals skyrocketed when inventory got low a couple years ago and houses started selling for exponentially higher amounts. Consistent, but measured, area growth was already driving up prices, but with companies moving headquarters to the region or expanding their existing employee base, thousands of people were relocating here and looking for homes. Then investors got in on the action. When homes sell for 30, 40, or 50% higher, appraisals go up, and so do our property taxes.
The state contributing less = local taxpayers contributing more. State funding and local property taxes each used to cover about an equivalent share until after the 2008 financial crisis, when home values started rising and the state share started declining. By 2019, the state was only covering 36.9%, leaving local taxpayers to cover the rest. During the 2019 legislative session, the legislature pumped $6.5 billion in new dollars into public education and $5.1 billion into reducing property taxes, which resulted in the state covering 40.8% of public education funding across the state. The state is projected to cover that same percentage in 2023. A slight improvement, but hardly noticeable, especially with how fast appraisals have risen and continue to rise.
Here's a chart highlighting the state's share since 2014.
So, with all those extra funds coming from local property taxes, our school district should be flush with funds to cover everything it needs for teachers and students, right? Wrong. Here’s why:
Schools don’t benefit from higher property taxes. When property values, and taxes, go up, the state simply contributes less. The state allocates funding to districts based on both the number and demographic makeup of its students — using weighted averages for different populations — as well as attendance figures.
In the absence of the state funding public education at a level more equal to the amount covered by local property taxes, some city and county entities — like Cedar Park, Leander, and Williamson County — have created or are increasing homestead exemptions and/or are lowering tax rates to provide some relief to property owners.
However, as long as appraisals remain high or continue climbing, and as long as the state remains content to let property owners fund the lion's share of public education, property taxes will continue going up.
So is there anything we can do?
Yes. The best mechanism for reducing the burden on local taxpayers is for the state to get back to paying its fair share of public education funding.
We need strong advocates — school board trustees, parents, business representatives, and community leaders — to stress to our state representatives and senators the importance of fully and adequately funding public education.
I have been an active voice at the state capitol the last few years, and, if re-elected, I will continue to serve as a strong advocate for our educators, our students, our taxpayers, and our district. And I will continue to educate and engage others so we can work together to make our voice as powerful as possible, so we can reduce property taxes and increase school funding.
Please join my campaign, contribute if you can, and get involved as a volunteer. Together we can ensure all teachers and each and every student gets what they need to be successful.