Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) shocked the Austin establishment after stating she would not meet with taxpayer-funded lobbyists hired by government interests. But she also raised eyebrows from local officials who defended the anti-taxpayer practice, such as Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, who rationalized the ability of local governments to use Texans’ own resources against them.
Price lamented that legislation is hard to follow and that local officials who “have full-time jobs” need professional lobbyists to “advise them” on policy stances. In other words, Austin is complicated, and as a result, politicians and bureaucrats should have a taxpayer-funded advantage to influence legislation over the average Texan.
Yesterday, Burton announced plans to file companion legislation to Rep. Matt Shaheen’s (R-Plano) HB 1257, which would ban taxpayer-funded lobbying directly and through third-party associations that receive dues paid for with public funds, like the Texas Municipal League, the Texas Association of Counties, and other government interest groups. Undoubtedly, TML and TAC will spend even more taxpayer money lobbying against bans on their ability to do so.
Last week, TML launched their anti-property tax reform campaign. City councils received propaganda bashing appraisal caps and property tax limits that aim to control the growth of government. Limits on growth are vital to promoting fiscal prudence, as they require more efficient use of existing tax revenue.
According to data gathered by the Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts, property tax burdens levied by schools, cities and counties are growing too fast, after adjusting for population growth and inflation. And the larger the governmental burden becomes, the fewer resources Texans have for themselves and their families.
Not only does TML have a history of lobbying against pro-taxpayer reforms, their legislative philosophy is crystal clear—to unconditionally defend governmental power, including a city’s ability to tax, spend and borrow. In other words, unlike those Texans who want limited government, TML promotes unlimited government.
The governing ideology of local officials is extremely important. Not only are Texans largely governed locally; local politicians have a taxpayer-funded advantage over citizens when it comes to influencing state legislators. It raises the question, do your local officials side with Mayor Price, TML, and others opposing taxpayer safeguards, or are they supporting prudent reforms that limit government power?
Texas primary voters elected taxpayer advocates like Sen. Burton and Rep. Shaheen who are working to both limit tax burdens and level the playing field between politicians and citizens. In Tarrant County, it’s clear there’s more progress to be made.