Over the past four years, McKinney residents have watched as their property taxes—city, county, community college, and public school tax bills—skyrocketed some 20 to 40 percent or more. We were left to either fight the appraisal increases or await the next opportunity to elect another campaign promise to decrease, or at least keep tax bills flat.

As a resident of McKinney, I eagerly awaited tax relief in 2017, which never came. Now in 2019, there is renewed hope for much-needed reform in Senate Bill 2 (SB2), a new law that would give Texans greater control over their rising tax bills.

While SB2 doesn’t tackle all aspects of the tax relief Texans need and deserve, it’s a significant step in the right direction, as it will help slow growth in what we pay in taxes. SB2 not only delivers reform to the current system, it adds much-needed accountability and a voice to those currently left voiceless.

For years, local governing bodies have abused their constituents by treating them as open checkbooks without regard to the substantial negative impacts of higher taxes and spending.

Our voice, the taxpayer’s voice, is long overdue to be heard.

The same local government rhetoric exists in McKinney as it does in many other places, and the city’s infamous lobby group, the Texas Municipal League, is again distributing the talking points.

Public services and security will be compromised, they wrongly claim, since local budgets will still grow even if voters reject tax hikes of about 2.5 percent per year. They say SB2 doesn’t address the largest portion of the tax bill, school taxes, even though the 2.5 percent limit also applies to school taxes.

The government lobby claims the legislation will limit the ability of cities to raise revenue when needed, even though increasing taxes beyond 2.5 percent simply requires voter approval. They say the homestead exemption will be in jeopardy, but that’s a shell game.

The truth is that these alarmist claims are merely talking points rooted in fear over greater accountability to local taxpayers.

When told that he must be prepared to advocate for city budgets which propose tax increases that breach 2.5 percent in any given year, our McKinney Mayor George Fuller stated he “couldn’t.” And that’s the most fundamental, root cause of the problem we find ourselves in today.

For years, constituents have been limited in their ability to ensure fiscal responsibility at the local government level. As governing bodies take advantage of this fact, it is not a surprise that they fear the culture of greater accountability.

SB2 ensures that local budgets become more than simple line items with a total amount next to them. With SB2, it’s more likely that each item is scrutinized, planned, and responsible to ensure that those who wish to take a bit more from my paycheck are, at the very least, capable of justifying their request.

I am no longer an open checkbook unable to hold taxing authorities accountable, and for that reason I support SB2.

This is a commentary submitted and published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to submission@texasscorecard.com.

Dusttin Pearson

Dusttin Pearson is a taxpayer in McKinney, Texas.

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