How Your Parents’ Votes Can Change Your Everyday Life
By Jackson Osteen
As you may already know, Pin Oak has had to make changes to your schedule this year. In this article, we are going to look at the much bigger aspect of the budget cuts that struck our school district this year.
On November 8th, your parents can vote on a bill called Recapture. If passed, this bill will cause HISD to give the state of Texas $162 million of local property taxes. The state will redistribute the money to other school districts in Texas with a lower property tax revenue. The state wants HISD to “reduce its wealth per weighted student.” This is because the state views the Houston Independent School District as what they call “property rich,” which basically means Houston has a higher property tax revenue than other school districts. The higher property tax revenue is greater than the amount per student funding determined by the state to be adequate. Almost 80% of HISD students are economically disadvantaged, and one third are still learning English. This only further proves that property tax values are a poor representation of students’ socioeconomic status.
The root of all of the misconceptions comes from the current system for financial planning dubbed “Robin Hood.” The system is based on rising property taxes, which is outdated, and is causing HISD to have to cut their spending. The money we are forced to cut is impacting the school system’s ability to provide tutoring, educational programs, and other necessities for children’s education. In 1992, HISD and 600 other school systems in Texas filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas to change the outdated system.
The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where the state won. The court ruled the system “barely constitutional.” The item on the ballot is worded as, “purchasing attendance credits from the state for local tax revenues,” and unless you looked deeper, you probably wouldn’t know what exactly you were voting for or against. If voters vote for this bill, HISD will pay the $162 million to the state, which decreases HISD’s ability to give each and every student the necessities of education they deserve.
Sadly, this is only the beginning. As the property taxes rise in such a thriving city like Houston, HISD will have to keep paying annual recapture fees, until everyone is on a “level paying field.” The money we could save by stopping recapture would supply a librarian, a full library of books, and three teachers for every school. So what are we, as kids, supposed to do? Talk to your parents and family members, and make your opinion known. Voting yes on this bill will cause HISD to give up money that is generated from your tax dollars. Ask yourself, “Is this right?” If you answered NO, then vote NO to “attendance credits.”