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TX: Cleaning Up the School Finance Mess

Facing state Supreme Court decisions demanding both equitable financing of public schools and reforms to the state property tax, the special session in the Lone Star State accomplished one big item of business yesterday -- reforming the bizarre loophole-ridden state franchise tax and actually applying it to a broad range of businesses, thereby lowering the rate but also raising $3.4 billion when it starts in 2008.

Burnt Orange Report, a Texas community blog, has been following the ins and outs of the multiple bills piling up and do raise cautions that the new tax still gives special tax breaks to the restaurant, banking, oil and real estate industries and, if other bills being debated are passed, won't solve school funding problems and could starve districts of property tax revenue.

If Texas was ready to move forward on real broad-based reform, they should have been reading the recommendations of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, including enacting a personal income tax that could raise enough revenue in a fair way that could actually finance social needs like education.

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