If a local government wants to impose heavy new taxes and fees on its people to fund light-rail under a scheme being crafted in the Legislature, they will have to do it with at least 20 percent of the voters turning out. State Sen. John Carona of Dallas is inserting this important taxpayer protection in legislation being crafted in Austin.

While I cannot support the kinds of taxes and fees being imposed in the underlying legislative package of SB 855 and HB 9, Sen. Carona should be thanked for at least including this provision.

(It would be the first such “voter turn-out” requirement on taxes in Texas.)

All too often local elections are held in the dark, scheduled to have minimal voter participation, and thus allowing a tiny minority to impose new taxes and debt. By forcing the elections to be held with more participation, Sen. Carona gives greater confidence that the taxes and fees — if adopted — will have true popular support.

Popularity doesn’t mean such taxes and fees are economically valid, but at least they are done in full sunlight.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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