When times are tough most families and small businesses usually seek ways to reduce costs, but government usually doesn’t. However there’s a bright spot for taxpayers in one Central Texas county, where they cut spending and reduced the tax-bite of government. Perhaps this will be a template for state lawmakers to contemplate as they prepare for the next legislative session.
On Tuesday, the Williamson County Commissioners Court rejected a proposal to raise property tax rates, and kept them at current levels. Considering appraisals have gone down this year, which leads to less tax revenue, it meant the county officials had to find ways to keep the budget balanced.
Commissioner Cynthia Long, a Republican from Cedar Park, recognized that tax hikes don’t make sound fiscal sense by saying, “You do not raise taxes in a time like this when there’s an economic downturn.”
Rather than press forward with a tax hike, the commissioners found innovative ways to meet their program’s objectives. One department found savings by restructuring costs related to the “purchases of uniforms, office supplies, and fuel,” and another formed a collaborative partnership with a local non-profit to deliver indigent health services.
When pressed, government can always be more efficient, but politicians usually don’t want to tell bureaucrats and grow government advocates no, particularly in Austin.
For taxpayers in Williamson County, the hotly contested Texas House District 52 race couldn’t be clearer. The outcome of this election may impact the direction of the state’s fiscal policies next year, and whether Austin politicians will be able to raise taxes to address the pending budget shortfall or call on agencies to find appropriate reductions.
Larry Gonzales, a conservative businessman running for state representative, is calling for lower taxes and spending in Austin. Additionally, today he signed the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which says he “will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
The incumbent on the other hand, freshman State Rep. Diana Maldonado, is liberal Democrat who has not taken a similar stance. In fact, after the most recent legislative session, Rep. Maldonado scored a failing 28% on the Texans for Fiscal Responsibility’s Fiscal Responsibility Index.
Williamson County, known for its conservative leanings, passed their annual county budget without asking taxpayers to foot the bill for bigger government, and even found ways to save.
Let’s hope this is a lesson for state lawmakers when they convene in January, and that Williamson County taxpayers have similar representation in Austin.