During a recent interview, San Antonio’s newly elected mayor defended both Speaker Straus and the City of San Antonio’s record of high spending and property taxes. New infrastructure, higher taxes, immigration, and corporate welfare were also discussed.

During the interview, Mayor Ron Nirenberg – a self-proclaimed progressive – stated, “I don’t abide by the negative connotation to the word progressive. I am very progressive because I think progress is a good thing.” He later called Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) a “true statesman” for working with his progressive agenda.

Nirenberg was adamant about the need for both the state and federal government to contribute to transportation infrastructure.

Noting that even though “we know there is room to improve and use current funds better,” the State and U.S. need to do more. Nirenberg then contradictorily punted the responsibility to voters, saying, “[W]e need to go to the ballot if we want significant transportation infrastructure changes.”

Texas homeowners pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, with only thirteen states levying higher property tax burdens.  Statistically speaking, the median Texas homeowner pays the 13th highest tax bill in the country, and San Antonio is one of the worst offenders in the state.

The current M&O property tax in the City of San Antonio is 34.677 cents per $100 of taxable value. The rate of debt servicing is 21.150 cents. That leaves taxpayers with a combined total property tax rate of 55.827, among the highest in the state.

To put that in perspective, almost 40% of the property taxes paid to the city do not go to essential services. Only 60% finance the city’s budget, which pays for city services such as salaries for police and fire departments.

Corporate welfare was also brought up as a significant challenge due to the increase in government handouts of late. “We live in a new world where now we have companies looking to the cities rather than the cities looking to the companies,” Nirenberg said. “It is an interesting game companies play where they pin cities against each other. More of a – show me the money – type game…[T]his is the new norm.”

Conservatives across the state are fighting the ever-growing problem of large companies playing musical chairs and moving to where they can get the greatest handout.

One of the most hotly contested topics was that of the current immigration battle that has citizens on both sides of the issue up in arms.

“It is sad that our [illegal] immigrant community is being used as a political pawn…It is flat out wrong to use a huge population, or any people, for political gain” Nirenberg whined. He later answered in the affirmative when asked whether the disagreements between the state and cities stem from racial differences rather than political disagreement – shifting the blame from substantive policy discussion to straw-man accusations of racism.

Mayor Nirenberg’s predecessor, whom he defeated in a run-off earlier this year, was against the lawsuit with the State of Texas over Senate Bill 4, the so-called sanctuary cities bill. Mayor Nirenberg credits the disagreement as the linchpin of his mayoral victory which can be taken as an indicator of just how effective progressive rhetoric is among San Antonio voting blocs. It may also help explain Speaker Straus’ anathema to the reform and why he fought so hard alongside the Democrats to prevent a strong sanctuary cities bill from passing.

Meanwhile, the majority of Texans support the rule of law. Much to the dismay of House leadership, (although at the service of a great many Texans) the Texas House Freedom Caucus was there during the 85th Legislative Session to save the day and ensure the passage of a strong sanctuary cities bill that will keep the rule of law intact and stop rogue cities like San Antonio, Austin, and Houston.

No doubt, the pressure is visibly increasing on the Texas House to remove Straus as Speaker. Many grassroots leaders and county GOPs around the state have undertaken this effort to great effect, including Straus and Nirenberg’s home county of Bexar County. Currently there are 43 county Republican Party Executive Committees, totaling 35.7% of Texas’ population, who have filled an official resolution calling for the removal of Speaker Straus due to his obstruction of GOP priorities. That number is continually increasing as days pass and more Texans become privy to the shenanigans that occur under the pink dome in Austin. (Note that this does not include or calculate the 18 conservative organizations across the state that have also done the same.)

Texans’ values are being attacked regularly at every level of government. Now more than ever, it is time for citizens to fight back against this rhetoric and stay engaged.

If you would like to know more about how to get engaged and be a Torchbearer for your local community, you can learn more here.

Zach Maxwell

Zach Maxwell is a contributor to Texas Scorecard and leads the Texas Torchbearers. Raised in Cisco, he has worked in various positions in the legislature and on campaigns.