State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) and State Rep. Chris Turner (D-Arlington) were recently named “Legislators of the Month” by the Texas Municipal League for vocally opposing pro-taxpayer reforms, placing the interests of local politicians and bureaucrats ahead of Texans. Considering the indignant hostility many legislators share towards limited-government reforms, receiving such an accolade is quite an accomplishment.
Turner was applauded for his defense of local government lobbying interests against reform-minded lawmakers. He has levied a full defense of local bureaucracies in opposing a lengthy list of pro-taxpayer legislation, including several by State Rep. Matt Shaheen (R-Plano); one that carries the endorsement of Gov. Greg Abbott.
“School districts should directly represent the needs of their communities before the legislature, and not waste taxpayer resources on lobbyists,” said Abbott.
Also in opposition to taxpayers, Seliger received praise for “courageously” breaking rank, joining a unanimous bloc of Democrats to oppose property tax limits aimed at slowing the oppressive growth of local governments. Although Republicans often campaign on limiting governmental power, Seliger isn’t following through.
“Senator Seliger’s public advocacy in defense of city authority to raise revenue has benefited all cities,” TML wrote.
Unfortunately for citizens bludgeoned by local tax increases and the second highest per capita local debt in the nation, opposing tax reform in favor of local politicians is disappointing news for struggling families and their businesses.
But Seliger has been hesitant to jump on board with a variety of other tax-related reforms. He was one of only two Senate Republicans who failed to co-sponsor the Senate’s bi-partisan business and property tax relief package (SB 1 and SJR 1), although he ultimately voted for passage. Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) was the lone Republican who joined several Democrats in opposition.
Seliger has also opposed Republican colleagues on other measures, including an effort to give a 100% tax cut to powerful gambling interests. His bill was introduced following the Texas Racing Commission’s attempt to unlawfully usurp its legal authority despite objections raised in a letter by the Senate Republican caucus. Notably absent was Seliger’s signature from the directive. Despite objections, the Racing Commission nonetheless acted in explicit defiance of lawmakers and the Texas Constitution. The action was quickly challenged in court and the rogue Racing Commission lost.
The West Texas Senator also opposed moving the corrupted “Public Integrity Unit” in liberal Travis County to the Attorney General’s office and has worked on legislation targeting the free speech of conservative groups and efforts to curtail scrutiny of the University of Texas at Austin by the now twice-vindicated Regent Wallace Hall.
TML’s latest award is yet another striking confirmation of Seliger’s willingness to carry water for Austin political interests at the expense of Texas taxpayers. After all, it’s unlikely any of the above positions were platform talking points during his last re-election campaign.