Open Records vs. Free Speech?

An Austin American-Statesman story documented an interesting lawsuit being filed by Texas local government officials against Attorney General Greg Abbott and the state. The suit will allege that the state open meetings law violates elected officials’ free speech rights by prohibiting them from having discussions when they are not in session.

Senate Finance Recommends Property Tax Reforms

The Senate Finance Committee is recommending in its interim report that voters have the opportunity to opt for a higher local sales tax to buy down property taxes.

The report also calls for simpler tax notices that are more transparent in revealing the true change in the taxation burden.

State Planes Take Taxpayers for a Ride

A new State Auditor’s report finds that the use of state planes has cost taxpayers $1.4 million from May 2007 to May 2008. For example, a flight from Austin to Dallas cost $990 a person that would have been $248 roundtrip on Southwest with no advance purchase.

Don’t Like the Taxpayer-Funded Hotel? Sign Up Against It

Do you think the City of Dallas should check in with voters before spending $550 million on a government-owned convention center hotel? If so, you can find out how to sign the petition that would amend the City Charter to prevent the hotel by going to

Give Dallas ISD an”F” for Managing Its Finances

Today’s stunning Dallas Morning News story reveals that Dallas ISD overspent its 2007-08 budget by $64 million and, worse, nobody realized it until just now. The district would be bankrupt were it not for its reserve, which is down to $56 million – half of what a district its size should have.

Superintendents’ Super-Sized Salaries

As hundreds of Texas school districts insist that they are broke and need to raise taxes, last week the Lake Travis ISD voted to give superintendent Rocky Kirk a $6,000 pay raise. This brings his base salary to $231,520, which does not include numerous benefits.

Plano Voters Want Property Tax Relief

In an online survey Rep. Jerry Madden (R-Plano) is conducting of his constituents, there is overwhelming support for property tax relief. Some 70% of respondents say the surplus should be used for property tax relief.

New Report Shows Texas Property Tax Collections Have Increased Since 2005

Total property taxes paid by Texans actually rose from 20.3 billion in 2005 to 22 billion in 2007, despite the 2005 school property tax rate cuts, according to a new study. Thus, property tax collections have increased 8.4%, more than the 4.4% increase in state’s population during this period, and now we have the new business margins tax.

Procurement Expert: Government May Grow While Family Budgets Shrink

The head of a a leading firm that assists companies in obtaining government contracts writes in an Austin Business Journal piece entitled “Gov’t spending isn’t slowing” that, while families are tightening their belts, “many regions of the state will see major spending increases from governmental entities” and that most school districts “are fairly comfortable.”