Five Kinds of Wrong, Only One Mouth

One evening, a few years ago, the Mister was bathing Tiny while I cleaned up after dinner. I ran the disposal, and then heard a shout as both poop and ground up debris from came spewing up into the bathtub.

It was both impressive and horrifying at the same time to see the raw sewage of a family of three come out of one small drain with some amount of force. It was also expensive, but that’s another story for another day.

I mention this because I thought of that evening yesterday when I thought of Don Huffines.

Lordamighty, this man. He decides to yell at a bunch of middle schoolers who were asking him questions about what he calls school choice and everyone else calls vouchers or a really dumb idea Dan “Resting Dumb Face” Patrick keeps having every other night, because some nights are for the Lord (who by the way is asking Mr. Patrick to keep him out of this) and others are for checking genitals in public restrooms.

Want to see him yell? Here. Or here.  He’s yelling and huffing at PTA parents and middle schoolers. In fact, what seemed to tee him off the most was when a student pushed back a bit and asked how his voucher or education savings account offering was going to pay for most private schools tuition.

Now, today he claims he was ambushed. Ambushed by children. Which leads me to another point: If public education in Texas is so bad, how did a bunch of middle schoolers get the bead on you, Huffines?

Now, here’s what I’m guessing. You thought middle schoolers are super dumb, and you didn’t prepare. Buddy, that ain’t an ambush, it’s you being caught with your drawers around your ankles in your front yard as a previously scheduled and widely publicized parade comes by.

You weren’t ambushed. You were unprepared, and now you’re gonna whine about it some more. What you don’t realize is this totally fucks (‘scuse my French) with your narrative about how bad public education is in Texas because, again, YOU GOT INTELLECTUALLY JUMPED BY MIDDLE SCHOOLERS.

Now, I’m gonna go back a sec and talk about yesterday, when you were all, CORPORATIONS PAY THE MOST PROPERTY TAXES. When you said that wanting a fully-funded public education system in Texas was selfish. Back when you were spewing five kinds of wrong out of one mouth, much like my bathtub drain three years ago.

See, here’s the deal – you’re only telling part of the story, either out of sheer meanness, sheer dumbness, sheer numbnutsness, or a combination of all of those things. Probably the latter. You and I both know (or at least I know and you will later when some poor staffer gets a ping on his listening post set up to monitor mentions about you on the internet) that commercial real estate fair market values are a somewhat nebulous thing that by law allows most corporations to dick over your constituents.

Here’s how it works, almost everybody else: A company can challenge their tax appraisal on a property either by arguing that the property was appraised above market value, or you argue that the property was appraised at market value but the comparables in the area have lower appraisals.

To argue the latter, you just look at the comparables (the law requires a reasonable number, but doesn’t say how many, and also doesn’t say what is comparable) from your appraisal district’s website. Then you look at things their properties might have or have not, and then basically grab the middle number of the group. If your valuation is higher than that median number, you get to argue it’s unfair.

“From 2011 to 2013, equity protests and litigation peeled more than $57 billion in taxable commercial and industrial value from Bexar, Dallas, Houston and Travis counties—about $1.35 billion in potential tax revenue their localities never received,” The Texas Observer found. “That’s just in those four counties. Across the state, Valero has filed the most lawsuits, but the law has also helped lower tax bills for hotels, shopping malls, apartment complexes, office buildings, banks, drugstore chains, Costco, Target, H-E-B, AutoZone, 7-Eleven—the list is long and growing longer.”

So in other words, corporations have more in their arsenal than you do to argue their property taxes. And I’m also willing to bet that the ratio of tax to income is much higher for your average property owner than it is for a corporation, who can decide to pay what they believe they owe and not their bill while they’re protesting and litigating that invoice.

So yes, they probably pay more in total, but I’m willing to bet you feel the burn a lot more, and have less resources and time to fight an appraisal. You’re going to ask for and possibly get maybe $10,000 off your valuation, if you’re lucky. They’re going to get millions – possibly even halving their tax bill.

That’s what Don Huffines won’t tell you. He also won’t tell you that businesses get to pass at least part of their property tax bills on to consumers. Do you get that luxury?

So in addition to all the other reasons why Don Huffines is super dense about this, you have to know that he’s lying to you about taxes. Or he’s stupid.

But the real reason Huffines got so mad at school children may actually be attributed to this: the Texas House signaled today it has zero intentions of picking up school vouchers or anything like it. Knowing this bill is hot, unpassable, unpopular garbage has to be tough, I guess (I wouldn’t know because I have never backed hot garbage for anything). Tough enough to make you throw a stage five panty fit in front of a bunch of preteens.

Won’t somebody run against this fool in 2018? And won’t everybody go vote for that somebody?


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