Taxpayer-funded lobbying is perhaps the most egregious activity in which local governments engage. The City of Denton, for example, is paying a lobby firm $80,000 a year to keep fighting against their taxpayers’ interests.
Denton is one of several cities that pays the lobby firm HillCo to navigate the legislative process in an attempt to allow for higher taxes and fees while seeking to avoid both accountability and transparency.
It was the unholy alliance of Dallas-area taxing entities and large firms seeking lucrative payouts that unsuccessfully pushed for higher gasoline taxes and fees during the legislative session. What they refused to budge on were requirements for complete transparency in the spending, requiring metrics for traffic relief, and — not surprisingly — a ban on using those new dollars for lobbying.
After all, if there is more unaccountable money to spend, that’s more contracts lobby firms like HillCo can line up.
The Denton Record Chronicle, in it’s ongoing role as chief cheerleader for tax-hiking interests and unaccountable spending, reported breathlessly today that taxpayers can expect the city to keep paying lobbyists to work against them.
The city’s mayor pro tem, Pete Kamp, took direct aim at Senate taxpayer champion Jane Nelson, for her principled opposition to the plan. Kamp wants “public education” to turn the tide against Sen. Nelson.
That’d be mis-education and misdirection, something the taxpayer funded lobby excels at providing their clients who have apparently little regard for the wishes of taxpayers footing the bill.
As State Sen. Jane Nelson notes, the public is very well educated on the problems associated with “a new menu of taxes and fees.”
Let’s be clear, though: transportation is woefully misfunded right now, but the solution isn’t to raise taxes.
For example, rather than use tax dollars to fund lobbyists, city and state officials should instead work to end the billions of dollars in current gas tax diversions. Gas tax dollars are supposed to fund roads, but nearly 45 percent is spent on other things.
When we know that entities like the Dallas Area Rapid Transit — a big beneficiary of the tax-grab — have lost or mis-accounted billions of dollars in recent years, fundamental operating reform and fiscal transparency should be pursued and implemented long before taxes are raised.
Giving Denton, DART or any entity access to more dollars now would simply be a license for more waste.