Senator Tommy Williams
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0104

GUEST EDITORIAL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 19, 2005
Contact: Damon Withrow, (512) 463-0104

GUEST EDITORIAL

"Any successful plan must include substantial property tax relief while adequately funding public education and raising teachers' salaries to the national average."
                                                                             - Senator Tommy Williams
                                                                              January 13, 2005

The 79th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature opened with unbridled optimism to find a solution to the vexing problems of reforming our schools and providing meaningful property tax relief to Texas taxpayers. Unfortunately, we are returning home after the second called special session without reaching these goals.

Texas is a large and very complex state. Our fast-growing suburban school districts, sparsely populated rural areas and large inner city districts face vastly different challenges providing a quality education to every student. Taxpayers living in rapidly appreciating suburban areas are being hammered by increasing school property tax bills, while taxpayers living in school districts located in sparsely populated agricultural areas cannot fathom the burden born by those living in our faster growing areas.

Many fingers have been pointed and much has been written about the presumed failure of the Legislature to resolve these difficult issues. Though frustrating, the lack of a solution does not constitute failure, but instead exemplifies democracy at work.

For the past eight months, the 181 members of the Texas Legislature represented their districts and worked tirelessly to forge a compromise on sweeping legislation affecting our children and our pocketbooks. Yes, we may be temporarily disappointed, but we will not give up. The job is just too important.

Legislative leaders share my goals of meaningful property tax relief, restoring local control to our schools, providing local districts meaningful discretion to fund our schools, increasing teacher pay to the national average and requiring accountability for student achievement and directing more funding to the classroom.

Creating a fair and equitable tax system without a job-killing personal income tax and balancing the competing interests of the 1,040+ Texas school districts will not be easy, but it will get done.

First elected in 1996 to the Texas House of Representatives, Tommy Williams was later elected to the Senate in 2002 and re-elected in 2004. He represents Senate District 4, covering all or portions of Montgomery, Harris, Liberty, Chambers, Jefferson and Orange counties. Williams serves as Vice Chairman of the State Affairs Committee and as a member of the Senate Criminal Justice, Education and Finance committees.

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