The special session of the Texas Legislature passed legislation Monday that will change the state’s method of paying for public schools.
The bills, which go to Gov. Rick Perry next for his signature, cut school property taxes by more than $6 billion a year, expand business tax, increase cigarette tax by $1 per pack and require tighter tax-reporting requirements for used car buyers.
Homeowners’ property tax rates set for school operations will be cut by one-third over the next two years. The first-year cut does not apply to seniors and Texans with disabilities because their tax bills are frozen by a Constitutional provision. Their taxes can only be changed by voter approval of a Constitutional amendment.
The public school financing plan needs to gain approval from the courts, which will decide if schools districts are being given enough discretion to independently set tax rates.