Houston ISD has a spending problem. HISD now has six consecutive budgets that have run budget deficits. While HISD still has a robust "rainy day" fund, the fund will not continue to last if the current spending spree continues. The coronavirus pandemic has been an excuse for spending, but taking a closer look at the numbers suggests otherwise.
The HISD web page link for budget information (https://www.houstonisd.org/Page/68701) gives scant information to work with. Looking at the six years worth of budgets available shows the following deficits shows that the yearly deficit only exceeded 5% one year. It's also noteworthy that the numbers are a combined M&O and I&S presentation, and that both elements were at a deficit spending level. This suggests that the budget, while not at sustainable levels, isn't so out of control that reigning the budget in will be a painful process.
The M&O tax rate is at the highest rate allowed by law. HISD needs to make a change so that the tax rate can be lowered. Keeping the tax rate at the highest allowable level is simply bad public policy. If crisis arises and a transient income boost is needed where will the district get the income if the tax rate cannot be raised?
This isn't a hypothetical scenario. The image above is hurricane Nicholas that we just experienced. What if the storm didn't take the hard right hand turn just south of the district? What if we weren't in a dry slot? What if this was a storm similar to Alicia? It's not so much the physical destruction to the campuses in such a situation because insurance will cover the losses. The danger to the district is a risk of population loss from low income workers who are renting evacuating and simply not returning because they found similar paying jobs elsewhere. That happened back in my home area after hurricane Ike. If the student population drops then the state allocation to the district drops. While this could end up being somewhat offset by a drop in instruction costs the offset is not complete.
Looking at the web page for all the other candidates seeking office this election (not just district VI) I'm the only candidate who has articulated a way to bring in income to the district not involving taxation. A combination of bringing in extra income through the Medicaid fee for service model along with reigning in spending gives the district the ability to cut taxes.
Cutting taxes is both popular and good public policy. In order to cut taxes HISD needs to both cut spending and bring in extra revenue. I'm the only candidate who has articulated a plan on how to bring in extra revenue so that taxes can be cut, and that's something I will push for when elected.
Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support.