The following letter was sent from Rep. King to all school districts located within House District 61 to explain legislation he filed last week:
Last week I filed HB 780 and HJR 73 - nearly identical to legislation I filed last legislative session. This legislation, if passed by 2/3 of both chambers of the legislature and ratified by Texas voters would constitutionally abolish the maintenance and operation portion of the school property tax effective January 1, 2016. I've already received several questions from school administrators about this legislation and I wanted to share with you why I feel this issue is important.
Relieving the property tax burden on Texas families has been a priority of mine and many other legislators over the past several years. Our current property tax system cannot properly fund public schools, and it is overly burdensome on property owners - 17 percent of an average home mortgage goes to property taxes. M&O taxes are the largest portion of Texan's property tax bills - usually around half of their total bill. As you know, school district maintenance and operation ad valorem taxes have created a complicated and unfair system that depends on the mechanisms of "robin hood" or recapture to fund schools across our state. This tax system has led to three decades of school finance litigation in which the Supreme Court has repeatedly declared the system unconstitutional and has urged the legislature to "choose a new path" of revenue for public schools.
This legislation does not suggest any particular alternative revenue source. We are dedicated to replacing our broken system with a funding mechanism that is appropriately designed to fund the Texas public school systems adequately AND fairly. We chose a date 5 years down the road so that the legislature will have several years to work with school administrators and all Texans to find the proper alternative. Hopefully, when all is said and done - Texans will have lower property taxes, and the mechanism for funding schools will be much more fair.
Please do not hesitate to call or email with me any other questions you may have. Thank you.