A recent campaign mailer launched by State Sen. Kel Seliger (R–Amarillo) is yet another effort to hide the inconsistency between his rhetoric and voting record.
The front page of the mailer features a cartoon rocket labeled “property taxes” and says: “Your property taxes are skyrocketing. Conservative Kel Seliger has a plan to bring them down to earth.”
The mailer rightly calls for the end of Robin Hood, an unfair property tax scheme that’s punishing property taxpayers. But the suggestion that Seliger is a tax-reformer is misleading on multiple fronts.
First and foremost, no matter how many times Seliger calls himself conservative, his actions prove otherwise. In fact, numerous conservative scorecards, as well as a nonpartisan study conducted by Rice University, ranks Seliger as the most liberal Republican in the Texas Senate. Hardly the conservative stalwart he claims to be on the campaign trail.
Why is Seliger rated the Senate’s most liberal Republican? Among many reasons, his opposition to property tax reform is the most glaring.
A major nail in the coffin of Seliger’s not-so-conservative voting record in 2017 was his decision to oppose property tax reform, twice. During both the regular and special sessions, Seliger was the only Republican senator to vote against bills that would have put rising property taxes in check by placing more of the decision-making in the hands of taxpayers—a reform measure that was championed by both Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
In addition, Seliger confirmed his allegiance to government bureaucrats over his own constituents with his vote against Senate Bill 445, which would have expanded transparency measures relating to tax-funded lobbying.
In 2017 alone, local taxing entities in Texas such as school boards, cities, and counties spent as much as $41 million hiring outside lobbyists. That is $41 million that could have been spent on roads, law enforcement, teachers’ pay, or even returned to property owners. Instead, the money paid lobbyists to advocate against the interests of taxpayers, such as opposing forced annexation reform and tax caps.
Seliger has demonstrated that he not only supports tax-funded lobbying, but doesn’t want citizens to know how much of their hard-earned dollars are used to lobby against them. And of course, this has earned him the support of tax-funded lobbying organizations such as the Texas Municipal League and Texas Association of Counties.
Texans for Fiscal Responsibility launched its Fiscal Responsibility Index in an effort to bring more transparency and accountability to the political process by revealing which politicians say one thing on the campaign trail and do another in Austin. Seliger exemplifies the need for more accountability.
Don’t be fooled by misleading and insincere campaign rhetoric. When given the opportunity, Seliger did not fight for taxpayers during the last legislative session, and it’s doubtful he will in 2019.