Subsidies and Government Schools

by | Jul 31, 2023

If rural Texans want government schools, then they should be willing to pay for them. Nobody is stopping them from making voluntary contributions to their local schools. They aren’t doing that because they would prefer to force others to “contribute” to their cause.

The Texas Standard reports that the state’s method for funding government schools hurts rural districts and puts an “increasing burden on local taxpayers.” The article goes on to note that, while school property taxes keep going up, the schools aren’t getting any better. And in some cases, they are getting worse. While the article doesn’t explicitly say so, the implication is that there should be a wealth transfer from urban and suburban areas to rural areas of the state: urban and suburban Texans should pay more subsidies to rural Texas government schools.

Many rural districts cannot raise enough money through property taxes to support their government schools. For example, the Fort Davis Independent School District needs about $3 million a year but is able to raise only $2.5 million. They have a funding gap, which the article states is not the fault of the school district. The blame, according to the article, lies with the state legislature, which isn’t providing sufficient funding. In other words, the legislature should increase subsidies to rural government schools.

Rural Texans are largely opposed to school choice because they fear what will happen to government schools in their communities. They fear that their local schools will receive lower subsidies from the state—i.e., urban and suburban taxpayers.

Rural Texans are not the only ones benefiting from education subsidies. Every taxpayer in the state—including non-parents—is forced to “contribute” money for the education of others’ children. The entire government school system is built on subsidies.

The title of the article states that the legislature is “passing the buck to local taxpayers.” This ignores the fact that government schools collect the bucks from every taxpayer. The author wants us to believe that it is wrong to expect rural Texans to pay for their children’s education. The author wants us to believe that socializing the cost of education is good, even though the schools aren’t getting any better.

If rural Texans want government schools, then they should be willing to pay for them. Nobody is stopping them from making voluntary contributions to their local schools. They aren’t doing that because they would prefer to force others to “contribute” to their cause.

Brian Phillips is the founder of the Texas Institute for Property Rights. Brian has been defending property rights for nearly thirty years. He played a key role in defeating zoning in Houston, Texas, and in Hobbs, New Mexico. He is the author of three books: Individual Rights and Government Wrongs, The Innovator Versus the Collective, and Principles and Property Rights. Visit his website at texasipr.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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