Mo Money - to TRE or not to TRE

October 15, 2018

 Many folks are asking about the pros and cons of the Dallas ISD Tax Ratification Election (TRE) that is on the November 6th ballot. While DISD has four propositions on the ballot, the TRE specifically is Proposition C. Apparently the Dallas Citizens Council and the Dallas Regional Chamber REALLY REALLY want this to pass. Combined they have contributed $300,000 to "Dallas Votes 4 Kids" PAC promoting the TRE. (When you click the link, be sure to scroll down and notice the $20,000 spent on Facebook ads!) Does this sound familiar? Like last year when Senator Don Huffines and DISD Trustees Edwin Flores and Dustin Marshall created the kill Dallas County Schools (DCS) PAC  named "Protect Dallas Kids". Voters listened, DCS was dissolved and now there's a transportation disaster at DISD and a call for more money (which is Proposition A on the ballot). But that's for a later discussion. Remember Political Action Committees (or PACs) always have an agenda, but the agenda isn't always crystal clear to the voters. Below are some things you may want to consider regarding the DISD TRE. Early voting starts October 22nd

 

DISD SAYS:

*Will net an average of $126 million/year

 

*Money will be used to fund:

  -Salary increases through 2023

  -Racial equity program

  -Early learning

  -Choice schools 

 

CONCERNS:

*Money isn't in the classroom

  -DISD currently spends 28% on central administration; if it were at 20% (average for DFW neighboring districts) that would free up $120 million/year

 

*Increased taxes for property owners

 

*Regressive tax (the poorest pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes)

 

*No guarantee DISD will spend the money as they say they will

  -Case in point: 2015 Bond (DISD said pass the bond and we won’t increase taxes)

  -DISD is stating one board cannot bind a future board, stating emphatically the money isn't guaranteed to be spent as we are told it will be

  -Resolution unsigned by majority (only Trustees Pinkerton, Foreman and Blackburn have agreed, signaling their full commitment to fund the salary increases through 2023 if the TRE passes). Stay tuned, the Resolution is on the agenda for this week's October Board meeting.

 

*DISD disinvesting in neighborhood schools, closing neighborhood campuses in favor of more costly choice schools

 

*Recapture - increased taxes means increased recapture dollars going to the state to fund charter schools 

 

POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS:

*State legislature must fund public ed - VOTE! If they don't, DISD can ask for a TRE next year. Due to property tax increases this year, the 2018-19 DISD budget is fully funded including raises. 

 

*Tax commercial properties at the proper rate - closing the commercial property tax loophole is estimated to lend $5 billion annually to Texas. This will ensure businesses pay their fair share of property taxes just as homeowners currently do.

 

*Moratorium on charter schools. Duplication of schools is wasteful and unsustainable. 

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