Here’s a nice little scam floating around school districts: claiming credit for cutting taxes when they haven’t.

You’ll remember that the Legislature bought down school “maintenance & operations” property taxes to $1, using proceeds from their new business tax. Schools get all the money they were getting, only now it comes from the “state taxpayer” rather than the “local property taxpayer.” (The big joke: it’s still you). There was no “buy down” for debt-service taxes, the “I&S” rate on your tax bill.

The Midland school district has been charging taxpayers a $1.457 property tax levy for each $100 of appraised value. The rate includes $.168 in debt service for their bonds.

Simple math indicates that, because of the Legislature (not the school district), the new tax rate in Midland would be”¦ $1.168. And, bingo, that’s what it is. The school board “adopted” the rate last night.

Quoted in today’s Midland Reporter-Telegram is an administrator, “The Executive Director of Business Services” for MISD, who is falsely claiming credit for cutting taxes. (Set aside the meaningless title tailor-made for jokes about Orwellian double-speak.)

He said the school board and administrators have been “very fiscally responsible in managing the budget, managing our building projects and being able to reduce the tax rate.”

But THEY did not reduce the tax rate, and certainly not the tax burden.

The rate reduction was solely the product of the tax-shifting from the Legislature. There is nothing in the tax rate adopted in Midland that indicates some sudden interest in fiscal responsibility by the school board or its administrators.

In fact, the tax burden in Midland has actually increased. How so? They are spending more this year than last, thanks to increasing appraised values in the district. The money comes from one place: your pocket.

Now, if they had cut the tax rate below what state law says they had to, the Executive Director of Business Services could rightly claim to have cut taxes. But in fact, they did no such thing.

Watch for a similar scam to come to a school district near you.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."