State Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, addressed the Noon Lions Club about property tax reform and other legislative initiatives on Wednesday at Weatherford College’s Doss Student Center.
King deemed Texas’ most recent legislative session, which ended earlier this year, as the “property tax and school finance session.”
Before this session, the state paid for 38 percent on average for statewide public education while the rest was raised from local property taxes. The state’s plan to relieve property taxpayers includes buying down property taxes by $5 billion, compressing districts’ maintenance and operations tax rate and capping property tax revenue increases at 2.5 percent for school districts.
To help districts manage the change, the state is spending more on schools to keep local taxpayers’ contributions more steady, King said.
“Over the long term, that’s going to make a huge, huge difference,” King said.
House Bill 3, the state’s school finance reform bill, also includes funding to raise compensation for teachers, nurses, librarians, counselors and other district staff and funding for early childhood education, such as full-day pre-kindergarten.
For city property tax rates, increases in property tax revenue are capped at 3.5 percent, though cities can go over the cap with approval from voters, King said.
The legislature also aims to make the appraisal and property taxing process more transparent and simple, King said. In about a year, residents will have online access to the no-new-revenue tax rate for each taxing entity, what the proposed tax rate is per entity, proposed appraised property value and when the rate hearing is.
King also mentioned passed bills other than ones that deal with property taxes. He brought up one that would allow the state to rebate sales taxes back to Weatherford for 10 years to pay for bonds associated with building a conference center.
“We’ve always needed and wanted a conference center, hotel here, and we don’t have a place big enough to hold our kids when they want to graduate,” King said. “We have to go to Tarrant County or someplace and rent a facility, which is ridiculous.”
Weatherford Mayor and Lions member Paul Paschall attended the speaker meeting and thanked King for pushing that bill for approval.
“We absolutely, positively would not have that legislation pass had it not been for Phil King,” Paschall said.
At Paschall’s request, King spoke about a bill passed to not allow information about people who adopt animals from the shelter to be subject for open records requests. King said there had been a situation in Weatherford where a man was taken to prison for a year, and the man’s dog was taken to the animal shelter and adopted. When the man got out of prison, he requested his dog back and put in an open record request to find the person who had adopted his dog.
“It was just a bad, dangerous situation for the family,” King said.
The state also put $670 million of new money into the Teacher Retirement System to make the system actuarially sound, King said, and increased the state’s contribution to teacher retirement by 29 percent for each teacher. Retired teachers will be given a 13th check to retired teachers of about $2,000 per teacher on average.
King also mentioned a proposition that will be on the ballot in November to ban Texas from having a state income tax. If approved, the ban would be made into a constitutional amendment.
“Without any question, the states that do not have an income tax—I think there’s nine of us— always outperform all the states that do in a lot of ways,” King said.
To learn more about King’s views and for his contact information, visit his website at http://www.philking.com/home/