While a recent study ranked Texas 8th in taxpayer return on investment (ROI), the state lacks federal infrastructure and education funding, an area Hays County officials want to improve.
According to the study conducted by WalletHub, Texas ranks 47th in infrastructure and pollution ROI and 27th in education. Texas’ low tax policies means residents have more money to invest on their own.
Texas receives 57 cents back from the federal government for every dollar sent to Washington D.C. ROI measures how much states receive back from the federal government for the taxes it gives.
The same study showed that Texas ranked 33rd in overall tax burden by the state, credited to lower tax rates than most states in the union.
But lower tax rates can lead to fewer investments and government improvement programs, a balance still trying to be achieved in the state.
“Hays County sits on one of the fastest growing areas in the nation and we are trying to prepare for our infrastructure needs before the even more inevitable growth comes,” said Will Conley, chairman for the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) and Republican candidate for Hays County Judge. “Our state has done a great job at developing an environment where businesses can grow, but it has done a poor job in properly assessing its infrastructure to maintain that rate of growth.”
Conley credits low tax rates to the booming economy of Texas ranging from energy to technology and affordable living conditions throughout most of the state.
Partnerships with the state that allows Hays County to achieve the infrastructure needs is at the forefront of priorities, Conley said. The improvement projects on Ranch Road 12 from San Marcos to Wimberley and FM 1626 are a product of that relationship with the state, he said.
“Our number one revenue is property taxes and we’re being paid back from the state over time, but the debt is in our books,” Conley said. “We want to keep our taxes and cost of living low. If that is the circumstance, every dollar needs to count.”
In terms of statewide funding, those numbers come from investments and not directly to a district, said Tim Savoy, public information officer for the Hays Consolidated Independent School District (HCISD). With growth comes more tax revenue, but that does not include the cost for maintaining infrastructure, which is a slippery slope in terms of what it means to grow.
Savoy said the state education fund is set up to where a district will receive less funding from the state if property tax revenues are high.
This design has been present in the state for nearly half a century and is intended to equalize investments for students in poor areas which do not have a high tax base.
“If you want to fix education, a lot of legislation measures need to be assessed at the state level,” Savoy said. “What we can do at the district level is make sure we are hiring the best teachers around so that we can make a difference in the classroom, and that is one of the most important aspects to a thriving education system.”
Conley said Texas continuously ranks high in the union from tax burden by the state.
However, the trade-off, especially for Hays County, is to stay committed to the growing infrastructure, a measure that will pay dividends before new Hays County residents move to the area, Conley said.