Self-described “conservative” local politicians joined forces with liberals last week to oppose lower taxes and limits on government growth. Leading the charge against the taxpayers of Tarrant County were Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price and County Judge Glen Whitley who testified against reforms to the burdensome property tax system.
By doing so, Price and Whitley stand opposed to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) and other conservative Republicans who support property tax reform. But their positions also differ with Texans more broadly. A recent UT poll showed that the vast majority of Texans overwhelmingly support property tax relief.
It’s no surprise that local governments don’t want their taxing power limited. Critics of revenue caps claim the reform would be a costly blow to local government revenue streams. But that’s simply not true.
SB 182 as proposed would only lower the rate at which property tax burdens could grow. The limit is a cap on growth, not a cut to local budgets. As with current state limits, the proposed cap is also soft limit, and could be broken by politicians who obtain the approval of their own constituents.
Interestingly, it’s unlikely that the City of Fort Worth, which Price serves, would even hit the new cap of 4% if implemented by the legislature. But Price has shown no hesitation to serve as spokeswoman for the Texas Municipal League (TML), the Conference of Urban Counties (CUC), and other big-government interests in defense of preserving any and all local government authority at all costs, and for any reason.
The CUC has already discredited itself. In true Barack Obama-“you didn’t build that”-fashion, it absurdly attributes the booming Texas Miracle to local government spending, claiming they “build communities.” Texans know the opposite is true—private citizens who actually produce goods and services pay the taxes that support governments. Politicians can’t spend money if there’s no one to tax.
A broad coalition of pro-taxpayer groups, private associations and individuals testified in support of SB 182. They included representatives from the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), Americans for Prosperity, the Texas Association of Realtors, the Texas Association of Business, the Texas Retailers Association and several other business interests. Private citizens also testified in support.
James Quintero, Director of TPPF’s Center for Local Governance, reminded legislators, “Texas’ local property tax system ranks as the 14th most punishing in the nation. Texans need the Legislature to not only deliver immediate property tax relief, but to also make long-term, structural property tax reforms that protect homeowners and businesses for years to come.”
Tarrant County residents deserve better local representation. When given an opportunity to move past rhetoric and follow through on their conservative talking points and glossy push-card promises, Price and Whitley chose big-government interests over Texas families and businesses. The future health of their political careers relies on Tarrant County constituents never finding out.