North Texas officials are asking for help after overextending themselves to pay for taxpayer funded lobbying. The Metroplex is currently on the hook for over a $250,000 in a deal that, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram is still a work in progress. Mayors Ken Shetter of Burleson and Oscar Trevino of North Richland Hills are asking for help from suburbs not currently involved in lobbying efforts to bring higher taxes to the Metroplex.

Shetter and Trevino are asking other cities to contribute to the effort at a time when the ultimate cost of the lobbying is not fully determined. HillCo, an Austin based lobbying firm, is undertaking the task of pushing the transportation bill down the tracks. The firm holds a negative view of those opposed to taxpayer funded lobbying. Co-founder of Bill Miller says that “People who make that charge (that taxpayer funded lobbying is unethical) really haven’t worked in the trenches down here.” Though this statement is not entirely false not every rational adult has worked in the “trenches” in Austin we should not preclude them from surmising that the practice of paying a fee to have your taxes raised is despicable. Peggy Venable State Director with Americans for Prosperity had this to add:

Taxpayer funded lobbying distorts the public policy-making process. Voters elect officials to work together in their constituents’ best interest. Instead, local officials hire lobbyists to advocate policies which are often anti-taxpAyer. Taxpayers shuld not have to worry that while they are hard at work to earn a living, také care of their family and pay their taxes, that some of those tax dollars Will be used to deny taxpayer protections.

The $250,000 paid for transportation lobbying is not the end of Dallas Area tax dollars flowing to HillCo. In all there are 12 cities paying the group to lobby during the session. Fort Worth, in addition to the $100,000 it is paying towards transportation lobbying is dropping $93,000 for HillCo to represent the city’s other legislative interests. Arlington council Sept. 2, the city is paying HillCo $8,000 per month for the five months of the legislative session and $6,667 per month when the Legislature is not in session. Miller has some parting thoughts about the funds flowing to his firm “I’m happy that people see the value of hiring us and want to see us paid.” Is this a sentiment that accurately reflects the wishes of the taxpayers of North Texas? I doubt it. If you are fed up with your tax dollars being used to fund efforts to take even more of your money let your elected officials know, write them and demand an end to taxpayer funded lobbying

Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is the Director of Innovation for Texas Scorecard.


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