Houstonians Join Real Values for Texas to Fix Broken Property Tax System
On Wednesday, May 21st, approximately 45 parents, homeowners, teachers, and community members kicked off efforts in Houston to join the Real Values for Texas campaign which is aimed at fixing the state’s broken property tax system.
“Our broken property tax system works against kids, homeowners, and schools,” said Reverend James Caldwell of the Houston Coalition of Community Organizations.
In Houston, most large commercial property owners exploit loopholes in property tax law that allow them to lower their property tax bills by an average of 40 percent each year. As a result, homeowners have had to makeup the $1.4 billion difference for schools over the past five years.
“It troubles me that, unless we change property tax law, kids in pre-kindergarten like my daughter will face obstacles to their education every year because of funding cuts,” said Tarah Taylor, a parent of an HISD student. “Even though she is just 4 years old, my daughter is already fundraising for musical instruments at her school.”
“My students pay the price when large commercial property owners get huge discounts on their property taxes,” said Daniel Santos, an HISD teacher. “From bigger class sizes to limited supplies, each year it gets harder to give students the full attention and resources they need to succeed.”
For homeowners, the impact has been equally significant. Since 2000, the property tax burden on homeowners grew from 45 percent to 54 percent while the share that commercial and industrial property owners paid dropped to less than 20 percent, according to the Associated Press.
“I do my part and pay my property taxes each year, and it’s unfair that homeowners like me have to make up for what big commercial property owners are not paying,” said Guadalupe Avila, a homeowner from Houston’s Northside.“It’s time for a fair system where big commercial property owners pay property taxes on the real market values of their properties.”
Community organizations that participated in the action included: Houston Federation of Teachers, Community Voices for Public Education, Texas Organizing Project, SEIU Texas, Fe y Justicia Worker Center, Working America, Houston Peace and Justice Center, Pax Christi Houston, Coalition of Community Organizations, Northeast Concerned Citizens League NCCCL, Harris County AFL-CIO Council, Labor Council on Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), Council of American – Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Familias Immigrantes y Estudiantes en la lucha (FEIL).
Local public officials also attended and showed their support for a fair property tax system.
“Property tax fairness is a simple issue,” said Houston City Council Member Jerry Davis of District B. “It is about fixing the law to ensure that children have a quality education, our streets are safe, and homeowners are not overburdened.”
Council Member Davis also pointed out that just earlier this year the community fought – and ultimately won – the fight to keep Nathaniel Q Henderson Elementary School open.
In April, supporters of Real Values for Texas in San Antonio rallied in front of the Homewood Suites-Riverwalk to call on large commercial property owners to stop exploiting loopholes and to pay property taxes on the real market value of their buildings.
In El Paso, Real Values for Texas supporters are engaging the local community around the connection between property tax manipulation and the proposed budget cuts by the El Paso Independent School District.
Want to show your support for property tax fairness? Sign the petition to show your support for Real Values for Texas.
As communities across the state stand up and speak out for property tax fairness make sure you are in the loop! Text “RealValues” to 787753 to receive SMS updates. (standard rates may apply)