Rhetoric from local politicians opposing property tax reform has escalated in recent days, specifically in testimony before the Texas House Ways and Means Committee.

It brings to mind something I recently read in a book of Ronald Reagan’s hand written notes: “Prosperity is something created by businessmen for politicians to take credit for.”

Often politicians seem to believe success is all about them. We need to be reminded from time to time that government is not the center of the economic universe.

In some respects, it’s understandable. It’s all too easy to lose sight of the trade-offs when you’re considering the full range of possible services that government might provide.

The True Cost of Government Services

There are always trade-offs. When your local government increases taxes, it often means less potential for private sector growth–and it always means less money in your pocketbook.

It’s impossible to know the full impact of not having control over the money you earn. You could have opened a new business, hired another employee, bought from your neighborhood store, or given to a local charity. We can’t fully know the consequences, because the potential for any of those activities was taken from you in the form of taxes.

What we do know is that the private sector is the engine of growth. The evidence is clear. We’ve seen it time and again throughout history, and in Collin County, we see it right in front of our eyes.

Government Services Versus Your Tax Burden

There are certain services that a local government needs to offer its citizens, but taxpayer funding isn’t limitless. Let’s not lose sight of what budget items serve true needs versus wants.

Local governments could easily expand their reach by saying “yes” to a few more requests. We get plenty of well-intentioned requests for funding. It feels good to say yes. It’s a lot harder to say no.

All of your elected officials want to give their best to the job, but in the county, only the Commissioners Court members are charged with balancing the tax dollars we take from you with service and infrastructure needs.

This elected official will always vote to provide those services with the lightest tax and regulatory touch possible. Doing otherwise would be counterproductive.

Keith Self

Keith Self served as Collin County judge from 2007 to 2018. Prior to holding elected office, the fifth-generation Texan and West Point graduate had a distinguished military career, serving 25 years as an Army officer.