With Tuesday's voter approval of LISD's $98.8 million bond package, some voters are questioning why LISD relies so heavily on property taxes to fund school upgrades. Lubbock City Councilman Gary Boren is sympathetic to LISD's situation and he says you've only got the state to blame.
"What's wrong is Austin has not done what it's supposed to and we're shouldering the burden of that load on our citizens," says Councilman Boren. He claims that with the combination of state budget cuts and increasing state regulations, LISD has no choice but to rely on tax money to pay the bill.
"The state is not doing its duty constitutionally to fund education," Boren explains. The councilman recently contacted Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn about the rising property taxes. In a letter, she responded with: "...if school taxes are rising in Lubbock County, the fault doesn't lie with the state. It lies wholly with local decisions made by local officials."
LISD's Art Martin disagrees. "Until the state changes the way it funds school systems, there's nothing we can do to change as far as local property taxes," says Martin. Which is why he agrees LISD must rely on property tax money to do things like upgrade it's facilities and remain a competitive school district. "The only way to do that is to pass a bond that was just passed because the state does not provide enough funding for facilities," he says.
Both Martin and Boren agree that the answer to the rising property tax is in the state legislature. "We have to look to Austin to fix the problem. By state constitution they're responsible for it and they have been abdicating their responsibility," says Boren. He will continue to fight legislation regarding state funding for schools.
Meanwhile, if you'd like to speak out, LISD is conducting a public hearing regarding its budget and tax rate proposals on Thursday evening at 6:30. Just go to LISD administrative offices located at 1628 19th St.