Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott, and Texas Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen announced both chambers of the state legislature had come to an agreement on a sweeping school finance and property tax relief bill.

Squeaking in just before May 27 and sine die, lawmakers in the state House and Senate passed a school finance bill that will provide raises for teachers, pre-K, and property tax relief.

The final OK comes a day after Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announced that the two chambers had managed to come to a compromise on competing bills to hammer out school finance and property tax relief measures.

“We would not be here today, making the announcement we are about to make, without the tireless efforts of the members of the Texas House and Senate,” Abbott told reporters gathered at the Governor’s Mansion Thursday. All three had promised at the beginning of the legislative session that the focus would be on school finance reform and property tax relief.

“We’re here to tell you we’ve been all together and we’ve stayed all together,” Bonnen said. “We didn’t get here without being a team.” (more…)

When it comes to property taxes, Texas homeowners pay some of the highest residential property taxes in the country, the research group Attom Data Solutions said last week.

According to economist Daren Blomquist, only New Jersey, Illinois, and Vermont posted higher effective property tax rates last year than then 2.15 percent Texans paid.

The company’s analysis showed nationwide that property taxes levied on single-family homes totaled $293.4 billion, up 6 percent rom $277.7 billion in 2016, for an effective average tax rate of 1.17 percent. (more…)


Texas schools aren’t failing, but they’re close, Education Week’s annual report card revealed. The biggest mark against the state seems to be no surprise — school finance (we talked more about how school finance affects the real estate world here). (more…)


Houston businessman and Democrat Mike Collier filed at 1 p.m. Monday to run against incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (Photo courtesy Mike Collier).

Mike Collier knows that there are people that care deeply about whether Texas stays red, turns blue, or goes purple — but it’s not his chief goal.

“My aspiration is political competition,” he said on a drive from Houston to Dallas last week. “I just want to see the end of this one-party system.”

Collier filed today to run as a Democrat against incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and said he knows that running for a statewide seat as anything other than a Republican can be seen to some as a bit quixotic.

But is it really? The Houston businessman may have seemed like a long shot when he first announced he was considering a run several months ago, but recent successes this month in other GOP stronghold areas has made the whole prospect less far-fetched.

Collier said his platform’s foundation is in two intersecting areas — public education and property taxes. For an hour, engaged in a question and answer session with the candidate. Below are some of his responses. (more…)

This budget meeting isn't like a regular budget meetings. It's a cool budget meeting. Photo: Bethany Erickson

This budget meeting isn’t like a regular budget meeting. It’s a cool budget meeting.                              Photo: Bethany Erickson

I’m going to make a confession: I’ve been to more school finance and budget meetings in my career than I can count. And they’re boring. I mean, stronger-than-Ambien, potentially effective as a torture device boring. And I am one of those weird people that like budgets and reading budgets. If I was going to color code a budget meeting, however, in my calendar, it would be greige – that weird midway between gray and beige that isn’t exactly soothing but isn’t offensive either.

Have I given you enough hyperbole yet?

Suffice it to say, I wasn’t exactly expecting what I got when I went to Cigarroa Elementary to attend one of Dallas Independent School District’s public budget meetings designed to explain where the district’s money is allocated, and how hard it is to make those choices. I was expecting a Power Point and awkward silences, like normal.

Instead, I find myself writing about the phenomenal meeting the finance folks at Dallas ISD ran. It was quite possibly the most fun public meeting I’ve been to that didn’t include booze. “How,” you may ask, “did they do this?” (more…)