Wednesday, February 6, was a tremendous day at our state Capitol! Texans from all across our great state turned out in droves to drown out the paid lobbyists.
I was only one of a sea of hardworking Texans who testified in favor of property tax reform legislation, Senate Bill 2, before the Senate Committee on Property Tax. The transcript of my testimony is below, and then some post-hearing thoughts:
Thank you for standing up for the taxpayers today.
There are a lot of lobbyists, and city and county officials, who are here on the taxpayers’ dime, to tell us it would be ruinous if they can’t raise our taxes more than 2.5 percent every year without seeking additional permission. Police and fire would have to be cut left and right.
Only in government is it considered a ‘cut’ when they don’t get to raise your taxes as much as they really want to.
Hard-working men and women from across Texas have come here today, taking time off work on their own dime, to tell you a different story.
In my home city of Plano in the past five years, despite a population growth of only 1.5 percent a year average, and inflation of only 2.3 percent a year on average (and that’s according to the Municipal Cost Index), the property tax portion of our city’s revenue plan has increased by 65 percent. What on earth could justify that kind of continued, confiscatory abuse?
My taxes doubled just because I moved from one home to another in the same city. [What I didn’t have time to say in my oral testimony: I now take up more vertical space, having moved my family from a one-story to a two-story home—I even have a smaller lot size now, but it’s more expensive, and I lost 13 years of protection with the 10 percent annual cap on taxable value increases. Do I take up twice as many city services now? Do I suddenly have twice as many children in school? No. But my taxes doubled anyway.]
This property tax system is now broken, and myself and the good people who have come here to testify before you today are asking you for help. We have been given hollow promises for years, session after session. We need real relief and real reform.
I support SB 2, but only as a small first step. It cannot be the beginning and the end of property tax reform this session.
Please give us substantial, real reform and relief, finally, this session.
Special thanks go to Chairman Paul Bettencourt, Vice-Chair Angela Paxton, and State Sens. Kelly Hancock and Brandon Creighton. These senators on the committee were absolute warriors for the taxpayer. Public testimony was limited to two minutes per person, so all those in favor of property tax reform and relief were limited to two minutes. Those opposed each got six to ten minutes or more, because these senators spent several minutes tearing their anti-taxpayer canards to shreds.
To top it all off, the very next day Paxton filed SB 689 to repeal school finance recapture, aka “Robin Hood.” This is a crucial step to fixing our system. Please reach out to these taxpayer champions and express your appreciation.
Wednesday was an encouraging victory, but it was just the beginning of a long campaign. I implore all Texans to call, write, and email your elected officials at the city, school board, county, and state levels, and especially, show up at the Capitol where the lobbyists live. Tell them all how you feel about this issue, and do not let up! It’s going to take all of us to make a meaningful, lasting change.
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