If all you watched were national news networks, you’d be led to believe that, in the absence of hundreds of federal bureaucracies planning your life, America would be reduced to anarchy.

The facts suggest otherwise…Texans live under countless layers of local government.

According to a recent article by Mike Shedlock, Texas has the second-highest number of local governments.  Excluding the state, this amounts to over twenty government entities for every 100,000 residents.  That’s twice the per capita number in California, and two and a half times as many in Florida.

At least we’re not in last place.

Illinois has nearly fifty-five governments lording over each 100,000 residents, on average.  A state infested with corruption, four of its last seven governors have been convicted and imprisoned. Is it any wonder that the state’s credit rating is also the worst in the nation?

Despite the frequent claims made by charlatan politicians, neither government nor the promises it makes are free.

The tax and debt burdens imposed on Texans are growing fast.  Defenders of big government claim that is a necessary consequence of population and inflation growth.

According to empirical data, that’s a complete fallacy.

An analysis conducted by the State Comptroller last year found that, since 1992, property tax levies by school districts have grown 34% faster than population and inflation.  City levies; 57% faster. Counties; 88% faster.  The largest growth has come from stealthy special purpose districts (SPDs), growing 115% faster over the same time period.

In addition to property tax levies, SPD sales tax collections have grown 1,700%.

A study by the Tax Foundation found that homeowners in Texas paid the 3rd highest in property taxes, as a percentage of home values, or 1.81%.  Illinois ranks 5th highest; California, 15th.

Texan’s property taxes are ten times higher than Louisiana (0.18%), a state with the lowest property tax burden nationally, although they assess an income tax between 2-6%.  When corporate, individual, sales, unemployment insurance and property taxes are considered, Texas ranks 11th most friendly, overall.

But as we’ve previously mentioned, these tax rates are not generating enough revenue to pay for the bloated appetite of government, which is quickly rising.

Local debt is growing 130% faster than population and inflation.  Texas now has the second-highest local debt, per person, in the nation.  The state’s debt has more than tripled over the last decade, even while state legislators claim we still don’t have enough public funds for water and transportation infrastructure needs.

Unless federal, state and local governments are prudently limited in their number, size and scope, there will never be enough tax revenue to feed them. 

The more governments there are, the fewer resources we’ll have to support our children, our families and our local communities. If we halt the charge of government expansion, we can once again become the beacon of freedom and prosperity to the rest of nation and the world.

This will only happen, however, when Texans decide to activate at the state and local level.

Ross Kecseg

Ross Kecseg was the president of Texas Scorecard. He passed away in 2020. A native North Texan, he was raised in Denton County. Ross studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and U.S. Constitutional history. Ross was an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie. He was a loving husband and father.