Thursday, 15 April, 2004

Texas public school finance

Governor Rick Perry of Texas has called a legislative special session to tackle the subject of school finance. Currently, Texas schools are funded almost entirely by property taxes. Since 1995, an unpopular measure referred to as "Robin Hood" takes property tax revenues from more affluent districts and distributes it among poorer districts. Not surprisingly, this measure hasn't made much difference in the quality of education in Texas.  It seems that the more money we throw at the problem, the worse the problem gets.  This was supposed to have been solved years ago with the Texas State Lottery.  Legislators, though, saw how much money was coming in and decided to rake it into the general fund.  No surprise there either.

The Governor has come up with a laughable plan to reform school finance. He proposes a $1 per pack tax increase on cigarettes and a $5 cover charge tax on "adult entertainment."  Oh, there's also a "plan" to raise $3 billion by increasing the number of lottery gambling machines at race tracks.  He's going to finance schools by taxing drug addiction, lust, and stupidity.  I can hear the teachers union now:  "We need more computers.  Please visit your local boobie bar."  The topless clubs, of course, will have a field day:  "Beautiful naked women, big screen TV, and best of all it supports your local schools!"   Good plan, Governor.