You know we’re in the heat of election season when incumbent members of the Austin City Council resurrect canards about fiscal responsibility.
Jimmy Flannigan, a left-wing incumbent on the Austin City Council, is currently running for re-election in November to again represent District 6 in far northwest Austin.
The Austin Bulldog, a nonpartisan Central Texas news website, recently published an examination of Councilmember Flannigan’s personal finances—the short of it being that Flannigan wracked up significant debts on behalf of several unsuccessful businesses in the 2000s. While it’s tempting to take cheap shots at Flannigan over this revelation, the truth is that lots of people launch business ventures that don’t pan out. At least he tried.
Nevertheless, this quote from Flannigan over his stewardship of public finances is appalling:
“My record on the council has been one of staunch fiscal responsibility [emphasis added], as evidenced by the fact that I’ve voted against two of the last four city budgets,” he said, also pointing to votes against “questionable procurements and contracts.”
While it’s certainly true that Flannigan voted against the budgets in question and that he occasionally opposes contracts, limiting an examination of his fiscal record to these votes is selective and self-serving at best.
A more complete review of Flannigan’s fiscal record reveals that his claims to fiscal responsibility are anything but….
During his time on council, Jimmy Flannigan has:
- Voted to enact a municipal entitlement mandating all private employers to provide so-called “sick leave” benefits. It’s never a good idea for government to micromanage private sector compensation practices, but doing so in the current economic climate would have been ruinous. Fortunately, a lawsuit from the Texas Public Policy Foundation rendered this issue moot, but that doesn’t change the fact that Flannigan voted for it.
- Voted to give away public land, tax-free, to subsidize the construction of a Major League Soccer stadium.
- Vocally opposed an independent audit of the city’s finances.
- Aggressively supported a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Downtown Convention Center.
- Vocally opposed efforts in the Texas Legislature to give voters greater control over property taxes. (Yet Flannigan takes credit for the fiscal responsibility of the first budget passed under that law.)
- Been a primary cheerleader for a $7 billion to $20 billion light rail system that will raise property taxes by at least 25 percent. Making matters worse, the proposed rail system won’t even serve District 6. Flannigan is, quite literally, proposing to raise taxes in northwest Austin to subsidize a toy for rich people downtown.
Does any of this sound “fiscally responsible”?
Because that’s Jimmy Flannigan’s complete fiscal record.
Flannigan faces four opponents in November’s election. Pro-taxpayer forces seem to have consolidated behind his opponent Mackenzie Kelly. Northwest Austin can make their voices heard at the ballot box.