House panel would require votes on all school tax increases

The House Education Committee voted 12-10 Wednesday to approve House Bill 203, which would take away school boards’ ability to increase property tax rates without voter approval.

Rep. Dana Criswell, an Olive Branch Republican, said people should get to vote on even the smallest tax increases.

The move was opposed by minority Democrats and some Republicans. They argue the state is taking away the board’s home-rule powers. They also questioned whether it was a good idea to crimp taxing powers as lawmakers examine changes to the state funding formula. Some districts could have to raise taxes to make up for state funding cuts under the proposals.