Editor’s Note: This is the second MyFDL report on Hutto ISD and its hippos. For the first report see Hippos United — Save Our Schools.

Tonight at 7:00 our local School District will hold an open session before a vote to hold a Tax Ratification Election on September 1st of this year. This TRE will call for an increase in local property taxes of $.13 per $100 in property valuation here in Hutto, Texas.

A colorful hippo statue covered with dragonflies.

A Hutto Hippo (Photo: mcdlttx / Flickr)

The Hutto Independent School District (HISD) has already approved a $1.25 million budget cut for the coming 2012-2013 school year, as detailed here. This TRE would roll back a large portion of those cuts and secure current levels of funding for the coming 5 years.

Texas has faced some intense challenges in weathering the stormy economic climate of the past 5 years. Texas has no income tax, so revenue is largely derived from sales taxes and property taxes. Property taxes were cut in the past decade to attract businesses to the state in hopes of generating increased revenue. As the economy has slumped, property values have fallen, resulting in decreasing revenue even as the state’s population grows. High growth areas such as Hutto have been especially adversely affected. The decline in home-ownership and the reduction in business expansion have left local municipalities facing tough decisions.

Texas’s State Constitution includes a directive that the state cannot run a deficit. With this verbiage in our laws the state lawmakers must balance the budget every year. This has resulted in cuts statewide to a number of projects and services, including massive cuts to public school funding.

In 2011, Governor Perry passed a $4 billion budget cut aimed specifically at our public schools. This resulted in the loss of 900 jobs in the early months of the 2011-2012 school year. The cuts were calculated at $537 per student and were the first cuts to per-student spending since World War II.

Texas is not alone in these struggles. Many of our states are facing similar shortfalls.

Needless to say, this tumultuous economy has left many School Districts holding the bag. Hands are tied all across the country; on one hand we have individual homes and families struggling to get by. Evictions and bankruptcies are around every corner. Healthcare costs are high and getting higher. Wages have been stagnant while cost of living has increased at a steady pace. On the other hand, School Districts are still doing noble work, every day providing for our children and educating the future generations.

Quality education costs money. Quality education is important, even more so now at the primary level. College tuition is at an all time high, pricing higher education out of reach for many Americans. Without a quality primary education, we’re left with a populous incapable of guiding our nation into the future.

Hutto is in an excellent position. We have an opportunity, using the TRE, to support our school district and secure funding for the next 5 years. All it will take is a small contribution from our local taxpayers and our community can continue to thrive. Our science programs and our arts and music programs can remain. We can continue to grow the thinkers, artists, and creators of the next generation.

If you’re in or near Hutto, Texas please come out tonight and show support for our School Board. Once the Board votes to hold a TRE they will lose their voice. They can neither support or oppose a vote one way or the other, but can only publish facts and numbers. We as a community will be responsible for seeing this TRE to fruition and ensuring that our School District has the resources it needs to continue to care for our kids and build our future.

The Board Meeting will be held at 200 College Street in Hutto, Texas (78634). Please come out and show support. Hippos United will be there to represent our community, our kids, and the future of Hutto.

Hippos United is a non-profit organization, staffed entirely by volunteers, to address community and political issues in the city of Hutto, Texas. Visit us on facebook at www.facebook.com/HipposUnited and follow us on Twitter – @HipposUnited

Hippos United

Hippos United