The Texas Comptroller recently announced that the Texas Legislature has an unprecedented $32 billion budget surplus of your tax dollars. On this week’s Liberty Cafe, we take a look at whether they are going to spend your money or give it back to you in the form of property tax cuts.
This podcast was transcribed by a robot called Otter.ai. Please forgive any typos, as robots still have a lot to learn.:
Well as happens every two years, specifically, every odd numbered year, about this time of year, the first Tuesday after the second Monday of the new year in January, the Texas legislature comes into session. And one of the major things that the Texas Legislature has to do every two years when they come into session is pass a budget. Another way of looking at that, is they have to spend your money. And trust me, it’s not that they they don’t do it because they have to. They do it because they want to. As we look at the Texas Comptroller Glenn Hagos announcement that just came out a couple of days ago. They actually have just this this year alone, this biennium alone, 32 extra billion dollars sitting around. And by the time the session is done, they’re looking forward into the next two year period biennium period, they’re going to have another about about another 10 or $11 billion that they can spend. So a total of about $43 billion dollars extra, probably over and above what they’ve been spending this past this past two years. So what are they going to do with it? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about this week, on episode 110 of the Liberty cafe. Hi, my name is Bill peacock. And I am the host of the Liberty cafe. I’m always grateful to have you here on the Liberty cafe with me joining me in this fight against depression, and joining. But all of us joining the folks at Texas scorecard because we’re here in this battle with them. They’re the sponsor of the Liberty Cafe, and they’re doing wonderful work here to fight for your liberty, and your freedom and against oppression here in Texas. So let’s look at the Texas budget. Let’s look at tax cuts. Let’s look at property taxes, all those kinds of things. So I love datum. I’m kind of a nerd that way, but I love data. And so over the last week or two, about about 10 days, there has just been a ton of data coming out all of it from the comptroller’s office, which I think has been, which is pretty important. The first thing that came out was the property tax numbers. The levy the property tax levy numbers from the Texas comptroller’s office, what they do is at the end of each year, they levy the, the amount or they calculate the levy, that we’re supposed to be paying in our property taxes, which is pretty simple. They know how much value property values in a certain jurisdiction, whether it’s a county or a city or school district. And they get reported to them for the most part, not all entities, districts or cities or counties cooperate. But they get the property tax rate reported to the comptroller’s office. So they just apply the rate to the to the value of the property and come up with a pretty close estimate of how much we’re all paying for property taxes each year. And they break it down into special purpose districts, school districts, cities and counties. And you can add it up and see how much property taxes has grown over the years. There’s some some anomalies with the data. But I think it’s pretty good data. And so that’s just out and I don’t have the numbers all calculated quite yet. But I’m pretty sure that I can tell you at the end of that when I do is that this property tax cut that we all voted on back in May, I guess it was April, whenever the primaries were that we’re supposed to give property taxes from the legislature because at least homeowners because they expanded our property or homeowners exemptions. We didn’t get property tax cuts. We we might have gotten a little relief but not much property taxes have all gone up this year. So that’s number one that these are the bills that we’re paying right now. They were due January first they’re overdue by the end of January. So that was the first set of data and that’s that’s pretty good. We’ll talk maybe a little bit about that. The second set of data that came from the comptroller’s office is some data on the amount of chapter 313 property tax abatements applications that had been processed by the comptroller’s office. So basically chapter 313. Property tax abatements are what a big big In this and usually very big business and most often a renewable energy generator, either wind or these days more likely to be solar generator, goes to some school district and says, Hey, we want to build a wind turbine or we want to build a wind farm or a solar farm in your school district, or it could be some kind of manufacturing process as well. And if you’ll give us a property tax base payment, which will essentially cut our taxes in half over the next 10 years will come build us here and your school district will get a lot more money. And don’t worry about the people who have to live near these wind turbines or solar farms. All you need to focus on is you getting more money so we can build our wind farm or solar farm. And so but fortunately, the legislature last session allowed that program to expire and everybody just went crazy. There were more applications according to the data on the Comptroller’s website, filed for Chapter 313 tax abatements Since June 1 of last year when everybody knew that the program was going away, more more filed during that year and a half period until the program expired a few days ago, then there had been going all the way back to 2014. Everybody, and their stockholders wanted to get a piece of your property tax dollars, because what happens, of course is, you know, they get the tax cuts, you get to continue to pay property taxes and make up for what they’re not paying. So that data was up there probably won’t talk much about this today. But it’s really cool. And then, most recently, just yesterday, Tuesday, the Texas Comptroller came out and told the Texas Legislature how much money they’re going to be able to have your money, they’re going to be able to spend over the next two years on state and government. Right. And it’s a lot of money. It’s a lot of money. He said that if you know if the legislature doesn’t spend any more in the current biennium, the current two year budget period, and they could because that doesn’t end until September 1 of this year, August 31. But if they don’t spend any more of this period, they will but but, and just go next year, they’ll have $188 billion to spend over the next two years. And this is just state tax and, and tax related revenue fees and all those kinds of things. This doesn’t include some other money that the state can get their hands on, and it doesn’t include it all federal money. So this is $94 billion a year for the next two years, they’re going to be able to spend, if you look at the how much extra money that is over what they have spent in this current two year period, that adds up to about $43 billion surplus. So the question becomes, and this is what everybody’s talking about, and we’re going to talk a lot about it today. Is what do you do with this 43 billion extra dollars? Well, if you’re a politician in Texas, most likely you want to spend it. If you’re a politician in Texas, at local government, or in schools, trustees, mayors, city council, county commissioners, those kinds of things, you’re gonna want the legislature to give it to you. Right? You’re gonna want to get your hands on this money. But what if you’re a taxpayer like me? I would just assume them not spend any more money. I think government’s too big already. I want them to stop spending my money and give the extra back to me. Um, I’d love if government cut spending right now, that’d be great. But how about let’s just go with this no new growth, that they don’t spend any more money next year. And the year after that than they did this year. That’s a big start. And that’s what we could do with this $44 billion surplus. That’s the concept if they don’t spend any more next year than they do this year, or any more of the year after that than they do this year. And they have 44 43 billion extra dollars of our dollars just lying around that they could give back to us. And that’s a lot of money, but they don’t really want to do that. Greg Abbott went back when this surplus was looking at $27 billion a few months ago, he said he wanted to give half of the money back to taxpayer so we’re looking Did about 13 or $14 billion. So I don’t think that’s enough. But you gotta give Abbott credit for saying that. And let’s hope he continues to push for that and and push for more. But Dan Patrick, was way, way below that number, he first came out with about $4 billion. And then he dropped that off to about well, two and a half billion dollars for homeowners, and then we’ll look also to getting some more to businesses. But, you know, 4 billion seems like top for him. And then our speaker, the house Dade feeling has indicated that he’s interested in spending that money if not most of that money, if not all that money on more government, because he’s pointed out man, there’s a lot of stuff the infrastructure, and have you seen how the price of government is going up these days, we got to spend that money because inflation is making government more expensive? Well, I think Speaker feelin has forgotten, or just ignored the fact that inflation is also driving up our costs. And wouldn’t it be nice to the Texas Legislature to give us our money back. So we can meet these increasing costs, because the truth of the matter is, is if government’s already too big, and it is, then if they spend the same amount of money next time as they did this time, and they have to deal with inflation? Well, that’s okay. Because they might have to cut a few services here, even though it’s the same amount of money because of inflation. But that’s okay. Because government is already too big. For one of the things they could cut is all this money they’re giving to renewable energy companies and other businesses, corporate welfare, billions of dollars of that in there, but also a lot of the things that they do that they shouldn’t be doing. So that’s the debate going on up in Austin, are here in Austin, or near here in Austin, we’re out in the Texas hill country these days. So how are we going to get this money back to Texas taxpayers? Well, the there’s two different ways really, you can do it that are pretty simple. We don’t have an income tax here in Texas for for individuals, businesses have a component of income tax, but individuals don’t. So they can’t just give us tax refunds that way. So there’s really two different ways. One is they can cut sales taxes. And that’s a perfectly legitimate and it’s actually the easiest way to do it, you just cut sales taxes instead, right now, the state, you know, most of us pay eight and a quarter percent sales tax, when we go to buy something at the store, the state gets 6.25% of that. And so they could just cut that rate, they could I haven’t done the numbers, they could cut it down to five and a quarter percent, something like that. So that the money that the state would be getting from that drops. And let’s just say, you know, over the next two years, they have 43 billion extra dollars, it’s a simple math problem, the legislature tells the Comptroller to drop the tax rate to an amount that would reduce our sales taxes over the next two years, by $43 billion. And then they just use a surplus to take to fill in the gap. So government doesn’t grow at all. Matter of fact, taxes, state taxes drop way down, the amount of money going into government stays level. And we’re in really good shape. Now, I That’s the easiest, simple way. And I would normally favor that, except for the problem of property taxes, property taxes are just going out of control. Whereas at least the sales tax stays at the same rate. Schools and counties and cities and special purpose districts are constantly raising the not just the revenue, but the rates on that. And that, you know, it’s not just the growing economy, they raise the rates so they can get more money, or they lower the rates, but not as much as the property value. So they’re constantly assessing in getting those rates up. So I think right now, eliminating, reducing property taxes is more important than having, you know, a one time lowering of the sales tax, or maybe you could make it permanent as well. So property taxes. So how do we do that? Well, I’m working with Don Hofheinz at the Hofheinz Liberty Foundation. And if you followed him during his gubernatorial campaign in his time in the Texas Senate property taxes was something that is very important to him, reducing those or eliminating them entirely. And so we’re working together at the Hofheinz Liberty foundation to come up with The plan for eliminating not all the property taxes at this point in time because it’s a lot of money. For instance, if you look at the total levy based on this new fancy data from the comptroller’s office this year, they’re estimating that is $81 billion in property taxes that Texans paid this this year, they’re paying right now paid for the year tax year 2022. But if you get it down to school property taxes, and even a little bit lower than that, to school maintenance and operation, property taxes, the number becomes more manageable. school property taxes overall are about $44 billion this year. But if you that’s two parts, its maintenance operations, just what they paid to operate the schools and pay the teachers and the janitors and, you know, operate to pay your electric bills and those kinds of things. And then another part of it is about 20% of it, is what’s called the INS interest in sinking fun. And that’s what they use to pay off debt. So it’s a little more challenging, you can do it, but it’s a lot more challenging to to pay off deal with the ins, the sinking fun part to pay off the debt. So what we’re proposing is to leave all this, all that alone right now and just go after the the money that is in there for the maintenance and operations. And that brings us that gets us to about $36 billion or so. So that’s a manageable number that we can deal with. Now, it’s it’s interesting, because we’re actually budget surplus, this go around is actually about $43 billion, like I mentioned already, but it’s not like we could get rid of the property tax just overnight. I mean, we could actually get rid of it for one year. And nobody would pay property taxes to school districts imminent taxes to school districts, for the next year. But then this is not a recurring surplus, I estimate about 33, or 4 billion of that is a one time deal. Because of you know, we had the COVID slowdown. And then we had the COVID rebound. And then we had a bunch of federal funds that came into play and those kinds of things. So that’s why we have this huge $32 billion surplus right now, it’s not going to be like that in the future. So rather than do that, we can use that current surplus, and we along with a lot of other people are suggesting that the surplus, the 100% of his current surplus, be used to buy down property taxes, and then going forward, we essentially limit the growth of government by a certain percent. And then revenue is going to continue to grow because the economy grows. And then we use the Delta in between the restrain the growth in spending, and the economic growth and use that the difference in between there to further buy down property taxes. And this is the kind of strange thing, the magic formula, the magic way to get rid of property taxes is for your elected officials, politicians in the state to exercise fiscal discipline. Now I know that’s kind of a radical concept. For a lot of for liberals for certainly, but even for a lot of all politicians, a lot of Republicans even, it’s just hard, they get money, they want to spin it because everybody’s coming to Austin and wanting money from them. And even sometimes Republicans are going up, they’re asking for money. And so it makes it really hard for them. And then some of them don’t really care. They want to spend your money anyway. And they’re just looking for ways to try and make sure that you don’t know it. Like I’m engaged right now, some conversations with folks I’ve worked with for a long time. All smart, knowledgeable, people been doing this for a long time, just like I have. And we’re having a bit of a challenge of working through all these numbers. Because they make it so complicated. And again, they make it complicated, because it’s easier to hide how much of your money they’re spending. But we’re gonna get to the bottom of this and our paper from the Hofheinz foundation that’s gonna come out probably next week is going to show that we can do this and do it well. Depending on what the spending growth is, if we just say zero spending growth, we can probably eliminate the property tax and about the school MnO property tax in about five years, if we let them grow the government by 2% annually, which I’d prefer not to but it’s better than what they’ve been doing lately. That we could still get rid of the MnO property tax in about nine years, just think about that. Without any new taxes being implemented, if they just exercise fiscal restraint, we can totally eliminate our school m&r property taxes. That would be a tax saving this year of or are coordinated current rates, as I already mentioned to you have about $36 billion or $36 billion tax cut when it comes to school property taxes. And of course, school property taxes are going up. So in in, in a few years, basically, we’re having a situation where property taxes, school property taxes can either go to zero, or they’re going to be pushing up to close to $60 billion. That’s kind of the that’s kind of the the trade off that we’re looking at here. So what do we do about this? Well, go talk to your legislatures, legislators, write them, call them, come to Austin, go talk to them testify committee hearings, because it can be done. And it can be done easily in the sense that it’s really simple. Spend less money or you don’t have to spend less money, just don’t spend don’t allow spending to grow as fast as it has been keep it level or almost level and our school, maintenance and operation taxes can go away. And as little as five years. All right. Well, thank you very much for being with me today on the Liberty cafe. It’s great to have you with me, as it always is. And I just think it’s worth us thinking about this this simplicity of how things can really go if we take all the complexity out to the government and unbelievers and liberals try and throw at us and just look at the simplicity of how simply and how easily things can happen. And good things can happen. If we just work hard and pray to God to make them happen. His will be done. And also thanks to our good friends at Texas scorecard for sponsoring the Liberty cafe. Thank you for listening to the Liberty cafe with Bill peacock. This show is produced by Texas scorecard. You can learn more about this show and find other shows at Texas scorecard.com. Be sure you subscribe and rate the show on whatever platform you listen to see you next time.
Transcribed by Otter.ai