Today's Cannon: Property Taxes, School Choice, & Abolishing the Robin Hood School Property Tax
Sep 10, 2018 | 491 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Connecting today’s news with the research and opinion you need from TPPF experts.

Out To Lunch 

What to Know: Property taxes are driving out an iconic Austin eatery.

“A legendary South Austin restaurant and music venue is closing — at least for the time being,” the Austin American-Statesman reports. “Hill’s Cafe on South Congress will cease operations Wednesday evening as landowners prepare to develop the 14-acre tract of land the venue has called home for a quarter-century, its operators and property owner told the American-StatesmanThursday. …Ellis Winstanley, a part-owner who is involved in several other iconic restaurants, said property taxes have tripled in a five-year period on the property, and ‘there is no end in sight to that.’ Operators say that in order to pay those taxes, they must have more income from the property.”


The TPPF Take: Tax hikes have a real and measurable effect on cities like Austin.

“While much of the focus of tax increase is on the homeowner, businesses pay property taxes as well,” says TPPF’s James Quintero. “One irony of Austin’s newest push for a nearly $1 billion bond election in November is that city officials say it will help preserve Austin’s culture – but in reality, cultural landmarks like Hill’s Café are driven away by their tax bills.”
For more on the Hill's Cafe closing, click here.

Saving Students 

What to Know: Arizona voters in November will decide whether to expand the state’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts – a program that many parents and educators say is working better than they could have hoped.

“I run the Gateway Academy in Phoenix. It is private, and one of only five schools in the country that educates a ‘pure population’ of children in grades K-12 with Asperger’s Syndrome,” writes Robin Sweet in the Arizona Capitol Times. “We call them ‘twice exceptional,’ because they are high-performing, caring, beautiful students. They come to us, because they may have been bullied or left behind elsewhere, or really never felt a hug from a classroom… Thanks to Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts parents can send their children to our school free of charge, if they feel existing public school options are not the best or most effective. We use unconventional means from equine therapy to forming rock bands to motivate and educate our amazing students into productive, wonderful members of our community.”


The TPPF Take: The Arizona program works because it puts parents in charge.


“Arizona’s Empowerment Scholarship Accounts are changing the trajectory of students’ lives for the better,” says TPPF’s Emily Sass. “Across the country, studies show that both students who use choice options and students who stay in their current schools benefit from programs that offer more options to families.”
For more on saving students, click here.

The Local Fight 

What to Know: Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley says the Legislature shouldn’t limit the ability of local governments to tax their residents.

“But with his vocal opposition to Gov. Greg Abbott’s proposal to take away the ability of local governments to raise property taxes, Whitley is emerging as an alternative voice for Texas Republicans,” the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. “On Wednesday, during his annual State of the County address, Whitley called for the Fort Worth business community to embrace his fight. He asked members of the Fort Worth Chamber to call their elected representatives to say they want local elected officials — not state leaders — to determine tax rates… Abbott has said that, when the state Legislature convenes early next year, he will propose limiting local governments’ ability to raise property tax rates by more than 2.5 percent in a given year.”


The TPPF Take: Abbott’s plan doesn’t take away any city’s ability to tax its residents – it would simply require voter approval for big tax hikes. What’s wrong with that?

“Some say an alternative to big property tax hikes is for the state to enact a personal income tax, but evidence proves that Texas should ban such a costly tax,” says TPPF’s Vance Ginn. “Instead, we have outlined a proposal that would reduce the sixth most burdensome property tax system nationwide by starting with limiting government spending and using state dollars to eliminate property taxes.”
For more on The Local Fight, click here.
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