The Liberty Cafe
The Liberty Cafe
Life, Liberty, and Property Taxes with Don Huffines

High property taxes, a porous border, and failed government schools concern many Texans. On this week’s Liberty Cafe, we talk with Don Huffines about how to address these problems and further secure liberty in Texas.


Transcribed by

Bill Peacock
Property taxes are robbing Texans, robbing them of their wealth and their homes and businesses. Or Don Huffines, a husband, father, businessman, former Texas State Senator, and founder of Texas’s newest free market, think tank, believes Texans have something even more important at stake in the battle over property taxes, their liberty, we’ll be talking with Don about these issues and more on episode 102 of the Liberty cafe. Hi, this is Bill peacock. Welcome to the Liberty cafe. I’m blessed to have you here with me. And of course, also blessed to be sponsored on the Liberty cafe by Texas scorecard. So please run over to Texas, and see how you can engage and get involved in the battle for Liberty here in Texas. Well, our special guest today is Don Hofheinz on the Liberty cafe. And the occasion for this is that the Hofheinz Liberty foundation is releasing its first paper about this time on property taxes and the problems with property taxes in Texas, you can run over to have fans and learn more about it and see some of the solutions that they’re talking about. But let me just give you a couple of stats here. Texans last year paid $73 billion in property taxes. That’s up from 40 point 5 billion just 10 years ago 38 billion of the 78 billion of that money goes to government schools than the state kicks in another 30 billion on top of that, which means that a total of 68 billion of our tax dollars are being spent to tell children, our children that there’s no God that boys can become girls and girls can come become boys, and that we must erased Western civilization to atone for our racist past. And yeah, they often fail to teach our children, many of them anyway how to read write and think. So whether one thinks that the public education system in Texas should be reformed or abolished the problems we see in government schools, points to the concerns about liberty that our guest today Don halftones has when it comes to the property tax and many other problems with government that we’re dealing with today. So before we get to Don, let me just in full disclosure, let you know that that I work for Don, I’m part of the Hofheinz Liberty foundation, I do research and writing and whatever else needs to be done in the small think tank that we are. So just just full disclosure on that. So welcome, Don to the Liberty cafe. Well, thank you, Bill. It’s great to be on your podcast. I know how successful it is. So let’s well thank you very much. I appreciate that. So Don, you’ve gone from being a state senator, to gubernatorial candidate, and now to a founder of a think tank. What got you started on this journey?

Don Huffines
Well, that’s a good question, Bill. It I have just been lucky. I always say, I’ve always had this burning sensation in my heart on a call. And I played with Liberty since I was a teenager. And it just never goes out. Sometimes it burns really bright and heavy. And other times it doesn’t and but it’s always there. And I think a lot of Texans feel the same way. And we just I just want to be free. I just want to live in my mind free to the government. I don’t trust the government for any reason. Pay look to be a true patriot, always questions government, and always had. And so when I ran for office, a federal account was acting before I ran for office in 13. It’s something that I was always generally helping candidates that I felt were the most conservative. I was a delegate to three national conventions have been delegates and many many say conventions over 30 years. When I ran, I ran for office in Texas senate for senate district 16 in Dallas County. Again, it’s a 20 year plus incumbent who was one of the most liberal Republicans in Austin and I won in the primary. But I read specifically because we had the solutions, solutions to Texas problems and it’s the same reason the main reason I ran for governor is because I have solution oriented, policy oriented. I want to solve the problems and affect taxes. I want to cut the chains and government and let people be free so they can make their own decisions about what’s bad. Sooner live and can we can create so much more prosperity doing that. And it’s really rare that you find any Canada or any office owner that’s willing to come up with solutions. And you want to be in an Austin. There’s a reason they don’t do that. And that is because oh my gosh, they might have to be accountable to the voters if they come up with a solution. So, and I’ve always wanted to be accountable to the voters. And as you probably know, when I was in law said, for years, that I’m the only elected office or Texas history that never took any money from the state. I don’t know if you knew that. But I never took attention or reimbursement Expense Report. Nothing for me personally, ever, because I never worked for the government. I really knew that and it only worked for the people on so there’s just a big disconnect in a SWOT analysis.

Bill Peacock
Well, I think you talked about, some politicians don’t want to be held accountable to the voters. Another reason sometimes they don’t like solutions, because they don’t want to make the special interest that kind of hold sway and Austin upset, right. So if you actually came up to a real solution, to say something like property taxes, a lot of people in and around Austin wouldn’t like that. And so So certainly,

Don Huffines
what do they know where their bread is? Buttered?

Bill Peacock
And so that kind of points us to this paper. So the roof is already foundation? You started it back this past summer, right?

Don Huffines
It started somewhere in here, not 22.

Bill Peacock
Okay. And so you’re now just coming out with your first paper, and it’s on property taxes? Why are you leading with property taxes?

Don Huffines
Well, I think property taxes is, is just something that we can fix. And that will say my campaign for governor, I had a comprehensive plan on how we could abolish property taxes entirely. But so right now we’re focused on in the Liberty foundation is focused on educating Texans, about the issues. And so they can hold their elected officers accountable to the solutions that we’re coming up with. As you know, builder. This is a this is a three part series of papers that we’re doing our property tax, and we’re going to be releasing the first one, very shortly. And then the third one will be the conclusion. And then we’ll have a one page summary sheet at the grassroots or even Texan.

Bill Peacock
Politicians sometimes don’t have a big attention span.

Don Huffines
Yeah, we hope to get it to them. Yeah, of course, we’ll be sending it to them elected officeholders, but it is gonna be a real simple solution to get rid of them and all taxes, school taxes, so we’re gonna get rid of all school taxes, it’s a golf, which is generally half or more of the property taxes, people pay taxes. First woman educated on how big of a problem it is. And where Texas stands in the nation with us. We have the highest some of the highest property taxes in the nation. And really what this is about, it’s about our liberty, always. And that’s why I picked this issue. I’m a firm believer in property rights. It’s hard to have a property.

Bill Peacock
Well, that’s exactly the case is so the Texas Legislature has now for 25 or so years, been telling Texans that goes back to the administration of George W. Bush, and his five or six times told Texas, we’re going to provide you property tax relief, but they failed every time. Every time they told us we’re going to get relief. Property taxes has gone up and they’ve continued to go up and skyrocket over this time. Why do you think they can’t solve this problem?

Don Huffines
They don’t want to they do not want to solve the problem. But Republicans, as you know, control everything in Austin for over 20 years. Are we statewide office, some of those 20 years we kind of supermajority in the same house to Texas Senate. We can even get a constitutional amendment study. We can get any bill done. We want any piece of legislation, really think that through you know, any piece of legislation we want that the Republican Party wants into law we could get it easily solved property tax problem. They don’t want it they’re not looking for solutions, not only for property tax, they’re looking for solutions and watching anything. And I found that alpha numbers there and I was just always so why are they here? What is it they really all you know, they’re just Oh great. We’re gonna get term limits or we’re gonna get rid of property tax or let’s do this or that and get rid of the franchise tax and margins tax Well, that’s right. That’s not

Bill Peacock
one of the things I noticed in the paper is that the big problem seems to be is they every time they try and fix property taxes and cut rates are increased the homestead exemption or whatever it is, they don’t ever deal with, or not very well, at least the problem, the big problem is local government spending. Because property taxes are what fun, the spending at the local level. And if if the spending keeps going up, they’re going to have to keep getting money from property taxes or some other source of funds. And, and so they really don’t seem to be wanting to tackle the problem of high local government and school spending, maybe because they just think that it’s easier to push off Texas taxpayers and distract us from the problem than it would be to tackle the local government officials and tell them they can’t spend as much money.

Don Huffines
Well, that’s true. What you’re saying is, it’s always about spending. Government is never has enough taxpayers money. You’re never going to have enough. If you wanted Republicans campaign or limited government. But in Texas, if you want limited government, the best way to get is to choke off the money. Because government only exists, basically, it’s gotten the money. So it’s always enough to spin. And also notice they were often worried about the revenue. But it’s not the revenue they need or the taxpayers money, they need to worry about what they spend. So we can so this, our solution, as you know, is to getting rid of the tax and we’re going to do is have the state of Texas take over all school funding related to tax. And I find that interesting anyway, that because the Democrats I’ll take the stick who doesn’t pay their share? Guess what? The state’s gonna pay? 100%.

Bill Peacock
Sakhalin? Yeah, so

Don Huffines
it’s gonna be it’s gonna be a new day.

Bill Peacock
Well, let’s hope so. So the Hofheinz Liberty Institute has three primary initiatives. So we’ve already talked about property taxes, the other two are border security and education freedom. So let’s talk about border security. Most of us, in Texas, I have a pretty good perspective because of our location, about the problems with in the state and really nation when it comes to the lack of border security. I guess this kind of gets back to the question about property taxes. But why don’t you think anybody’s willing to solve the problem on border security either?

Don Huffines
Border Security is a little more complicated. There’s really only one way to solve, effectively the border problem, this invasion, and that is what the governor, the governor, is the person that’s going to be able to do it. The federal government never has to do at the border. And they never will. A lot of people think, well, we’re gonna get the problem. And it’s we’ll get control of the House and Senate in the midterms. And I think they will, but to what avail? Because people will not have the presidency. Even if we did, we had the trifecta, Republicans sit on your trunk, the border is still open. He really was not open to desist today. I won’t go into details below about how bad it is. I think most Texans realize that. But I’ll tell you this, I was in New York recently. And I’m having dinner with a few folks out there. And they have really, these people are educated and smart. Read your paper, and they’re all good. But they have no idea. Any idea of not how bad the board was, which I thought was surprising. But let’s get back to the solution is with a courageous governor of Texas, you’re gonna the governor of Texas can use article one section 10, which I’ve talked about throughout my campaign, even before the campaign, which gives the governor the authority to declare an invasion. And section one, article one section 10 enables a say to do whatever it needs to repel the invasion. Basically, you can negotiate a treaty with a foreign nation, you can get a contract with other states. You can raise an army you can charge attacks, basically do whatever you need to do to stop anybody Shouldn’t the federal government’s not going to come to your aid, which they obviously aren’t, since they’re participating in it.

Bill Peacock

Don Huffines
but the governor is the one that can do that. And if he does, that, it’s almost unlimited. The power that he’s got to stop it, what we’re talking about not enforcing immigration law. We’re talking about sort of building an invasion, and doing whatever is necessary. You must anticipate what the federal government’s got to do. I’ve always said, the key here is to hold Mexico accountable to the problem that they’re causing. It’s hard to have a good neighbor, Attorney fenced in economic pressure of Mexico. It’s what’s going to work. Remember when Bill you remember what Trump had the best results with Mexico?

Bill Peacock

Don Huffines
What did he What did he do? It was just tariffs, because he already stuck on China. You know, the Mexican just freaked out, you know, oh, my gosh, you’re wanting to tariffs, Texas does 250 million worth of trade with that economic pressure on Mexico, they will respond. There’s a lot of ways to do that.

Bill Peacock
Yeah, I think Trump got results because of the economic pressure, the threat of tariffs, but also from the threat that he was going to do a better job of securing the border, and Mexico was gonna get stuck with all these people. It stuck along their northern border, instead of in the southern United States, you got to have both of those things going on. Because Mexico doesn’t want those people, the immigrants just stuck in their country, they’re willing to let them pass through. But they don’t want them to stay there.

Don Huffines
That’s true. That’s true. And you probably know, border patrol in the last 12 months, it called illegals from under 16 different countries, these are not just Mexicans, Mexicans make up less than 40%. Hundreds of 1000s, potentially,

Bill Peacock
so So you’re you’re wanting to work with cooperate, the other entities that are involved here you want to work with and cooperate, maybe put some pressure on Mexico, and also the federal government, but who you think is likely to be a better partner and cooperating if Texas takes these measures to take, we might work better with Mexico actually, then the federal government the way is looking today? Absolutely. Absolutely.

Don Huffines
Mexico is the key. River. And if they’re not going to cooperate, it’s not we’re never going to have a secure border. My goal would always seem to work with Mexico. And but with Karatbars today, and you got the big sick and you better be willing to use it. And I think the listeners really do and because they love making money and the cartels are running everything down here. So it’s a matter of going across the river not paying off the cartels. And these of course, the most dangerous criminal organizations really world. But Mexico needs to take control of that. They need to try to take back the cartels and write them in and know it’s not easy for them. There’s Mexico’s a beautiful country determine the subjects and the mass, which is it’s unbelievable how much wealth is in that country and what opportunities are available for Texans to trade with Mexico on race and largest industrial city and it’s in Mexico. And it’s less than three hours from Laredo and Brownsville. I mean, we just got incredible opportunities in Mexico that we cannot utilize properly because of cartels. And I think that just needs to be communicated that we have to be willing to use the sick and that means shutting down the tray and stopping the tourism independence. You can’t cut it or whatever we can do stop there were middles back on the money. There is a lot of pressure that governor with courage can implement to make Mexico secure their side.

Bill Peacock
Some people are concerned that the this this solution is bold solution repelling an invasion might actually bring more conflict with the federal government and with Mexico. How do you respond to those concerns?

Don Huffines
Well, it could and it probably will. The I think the Constitution is clear that the state of Texas can do that. And I think most Texans are for frustrated with most Republicans is that we’re always on the defense. We’re always responding. And we’re not going to win the game doing. This is Texas, the governor of Texas has got a constitutional responsibility as Commander in Chief of the Texas military, which is our National Guard to repel an invasion. The federal government, remarkable for Scott constitutional responsibility repelled invasion. And if they’re not, we’ve got the constitutional responsibility to repel repel it ourselves. And that means anyone aiding and abetting the enemy, like NGOs that are bringing them in part need to be arrested. They need to have their buses impounded. We’d love to be your partner, we’re Border Patrol, and ice, but they’re not cooperating propelling us invasion. We looked at it in ourselves, Texas can immediately deport anyone who crosses that river. We’re not interested in visas. We’re not interested in immigration law. This was a tradition in the United States and legal process for way over 100 years, the states were in charge of immigration, naturalization work, immigration is not in the Constitution. The word naturalization, it’s those are two different words, completely different. This is a state issue historically. And it will be a separate issue going forward. Because Texas sovereign, yes, well, we’re going to generate conflict. There’s no question and that might be a good thing. Because I like the optics on our side, the political optics of Biden sending Border Patrol down or whatever, to stop the Texas guard and all the other guards who have been beginning to come to our aid in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, you name it, they’re coming to hell,

Bill Peacock
maybe even New York and Illinois, we’ll send some down here.

Don Huffines
That would be fun. But this is a serious situation. And it takes courage to face no weakness.

Bill Peacock
Yeah. Alright, let’s move over to the last issue, education, freedom, big issue for the foundation. What what is education? Freedom? Maybe not everybody will understand what that is. What What are you talking about when you use that term?

Don Huffines
The money that the state of Texas depends on educating children could follow the child. We’re here to do? What’s the fundamental issue of government education? It should be what’s best for the student? How do we how do we please the student and parents of students? How do we best educate them? That’s what it’s about. It’s about education, freedom, and what we can do for them and not what we can do in the district with the superintendent or teachers not interested in that. I’m invested in educating that time.

Bill Peacock
A lot of people within this system, teacher unions and school administrators, unions, and those types of things, say that the goal here is to define public education. Right. And but it seems to me what you’re saying is, you’re not so interested in the funding for public education as you just are in the education for the children.

Don Huffines
I’m interested in the best possible education for every student in the state of Texas. That’s going to government school, great. And they think that if that’s their choice, the choice of their parents, or the student, that’s what they want. Fantastic. And that’s, by the way, is what most of them are gonna pick because that’s where all their friends go. And that’s where the sports teams are gonna play football or whatever. But there’s a lot of kids, particularly kids with learning disabilities, and physical disabilities, they’re not being served. There’s a lot of kids who’ve gone to schools that are horrible. And there’s districts that are horrible. They remember that the measuring stick that we have for our government schools might not be the best measurement standard because it’s been dumbed down so much over the years. But it really has, so let’s break it. I love the free market. I love capitalist. And there’s nothing better than having competition. Competition is always say lowers the price and increases the quality of everything. Of course, it’s going to make all the government schools better, because they’re only going to compete for the student. They got it that’s stupid doesn’t like the system or the school they’re in and a lot of leaving. But that principal has superintendent

Bill Peacock
to learn how to compete and a lot of people have said that, oh, school choice doesn’t work. Kids don’t get better when they leave and go to private schools or charter schools or whatever it is. I say they’re wrong on that, that there’s a lot of evidence out there. But seems to me you’re saying that that’s important. But maybe even more important, is the liberty of the parents and the students to choose what they think is best for them.

Don Huffines
Amen. Absolutely. That is just looking at it from 30,000 feet, the government tells you you have to go to school, the government tells you where to go to school. The government takes the curriculum, the government pays the faculty. And it’s like, whoa, wait a minute, what happened to the liberty? You know, is we know when our some of our research, I think it was in 2015, that 85% of the students were not, did not go to Texas, it’s a lot of numbers. But it was that was the case they were people went together with homeschoolers are found on different school houses, everybody pitched in a lot of money. And that was what it was in United States for 200 years from 1630, all the way up until the Marxist really decided on the Frankfurt Institute, and the whole business about Marxism, and it came over from England, and we made it public. They called it and we’re here in the United States is what they call it, and everybody needs to be the same. Everybody needs the same education. And that’s just not the case. It really destroys liberty, of education, freedom of choice.

Bill Peacock
One last thing, it’s, and I didn’t mention this during my introduction of you, but but you’re a Christian. I was just wondering if you could just tell us a little bit about how your faith has motivated you and influenced your perspective on public policy?

Don Huffines
Well, thanks for asking that. It is fundamental to, to my public policy and to my life. And that’s why our tagline for the foundation of liberty foundation is Liberty, prosperity and virtue, virtue center, you, as our founders of our country knew that she really never experienced Liberty fully eligible for virtuous society. And that comes with a God of fairness society, it really does. And so I’m a firm believer in Jesus and our Christian faith. And I’m also a firm believer in evolution, and demons, and Satan. I think this is that our political environment really reflects our spiritual environment. That many things that we deal with every day in the political space is just combating painful people’s real segments through and he’s going to use button berry when he won’t be working in northern India. That’s the political and when he takes away your liberty, and he can control thereby the whole world and one country or whatever, well, one ruler or group or rulers, and he can destroy humanity, he can destroy men. That’s what his goal is. It’s a lot harder to destroy men, and they all have thinkers.

Bill Peacock
Yeah, I teach, as you know, teach 12th grade government and economics. And one of the things that we talk about in there is how Augustine many many 1500 plus years ago, identified this, this big problem out of Scripture, that of original sin. And whenever he you know, so man is corrupted. And whenever you put a lot of people together one place and start concentrating power as if in government, for instance, you’re gonna have problems. And so one of the things I think that school choice reflects along with a lot of other things like the you know, the decentralization of power and the separation of power at the federal level, federalisation stuff like that, seems like school choice takes those kinds of things into account and lets people send their children where they think is best. So not everybody’s in control of the edge. One group of people are in charge of the education of our children.

Don Huffines
Really everything, not just education, but you’re right. I mean, education is fundamental. Now we’ve got our government schools, when they took Jesus out and got out in general, in 6162. We’ve got generations now of Texans growing up that don’t have any foundation, a very little foundation of morals and principles, and we’re seeing that we’re reaping that harvest.

Bill Peacock
Well, Don, I really appreciate you being on This week’s Liberty Cafe cafe, that fascinating discussion. Thank you.

Don Huffines
Thank you, Bill. Look forward to doing it again.

Bill Peacock
And also thank you to our sponsors here at the Liberty cafe, Texas scorecard. So again, run over to Texas And you can also go over to Hofheinz. Liberty on how finds and find out what needs to be done here in Texas on property, property taxes and school choice, and whatever else we need to do to further Liberty here in Texas.


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