Though lawmakers have filed over six-hundred items of legislation since pre-filing began this week, few measures would be as impactful as State Sen. Konni Burton’s landmark debt transparency bill.
Texans are currently saddled with the second highest local debt per resident in the nation. It’s a burden repaid with higher property taxes.
Today, Burton (R-Colleyville) filed SB 245, a major truth in taxation bill that will empower taxpayers to make more informed decisions by ending the smoke and mirrors that accompany many local bond proposals.
“SB 245 will allow more transparency to taxpayers regarding how additional local debt will affect their family. We are honored to represent taxpayers in this process,” said Burton. “I hope that local leaders will join me in bringing more transparency to government across the board.”
Burton’s legislation includes major reforms such as requiring that local governments mail every taxpayer a letter denoting their current property taxes and the impact of a proposed increase. Additionally, the measure would require that local officials conduct a public hearing on tax and debt-related ballot measures.
Governments would also have to disclose key fiscal metrics on the ballot itself, such as their current debt and other relevant information.
Burton’s common sense legislation is sure to draw the ire of tax-funded government interest groups such as the Texas Municipal League, who have ardently opposed the pro-taxpayer reforms that Burton and other lawmakers have supported.
For years, conservatives have argued that Texas taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for Austin lobbyists and private government associations who work against taxpayers on behalf of local governments. True to form, Burton has been on the front lines of that fight, aggressively pushing legislation that would ban tax funded lobbying last year and authoring it again for the upcoming session in 2017.
Since coming to Austin to replace failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis, Burton has been one of the strongest advocates for taxpayers. She earned a score of 100 on the Fiscal Responsibility Index last session, and has been completely unafraid to buck the status quo.
The Colleyville lawmaker has also filed legislation on expanding parental rights, ending taxpayer handouts to businesses, and reigning in eminent domain abuse.