On the one hand, the City of Austin is spending almost $1 million of the taxpayers money to lobby legislators. On the other hand, residents can expect reduced services as the city faces a large budget shortfall. Why not cut out the taxpayer-funded lobbyists?
KVUE-TV is reporting that Austin taxpayers are being billed more than $800,000 this year so the city can lobby the legislature. For what? In years past municipal lobbyists have fought against taxpayer protections and property tax reform.
Expect more of that this Session.
(Sign the online petition against taxpayer-funded lobbying!)
Mayor Will Wynn defended the expense, saying, “Sometimes I wish we didn’t have to spend money like that, but it takes a big concerted effort to try to track the five thousand bills, any one of which may have a direct impact on our general fund or our ability to deliver services.”
Excuse us, but there are, you know, elected officials serving in the legislature from Austin. And many lawmakers have homes in Austin. If anything, Austin is already over-represented under the Pink Dome.
My friend Peggy Venable at Americans for Prosperity criticized the expense: “We believe the whole idea of taxpayer funded lobbying distorts the process. We believe our elected officials should be talking to one another. We elect them to do just that. We don’t elect lobbyists and we shouldn’t be paying for them.”
A bigger threat to city services to the people who live here come from the high cost of government and heavy taxes. But somehow well-connected lobbyists will get a hefty pay-day, regardless of the city’s financial straits.
For those keep track at home, KVUE’s Elise Hu reports Austin is the state’s biggest municipal spender on taxpayer-funded lobbying — laying out more than Dallas and Houston combined!