In a shocking display of arrogance, local officials and their taxpayer-funded government interest groups are whining that property tax reform is on the horizon. But what’s most interesting about the debate is that Sen. Bettencourt’s bill (SB 182) would simply require voter approval if cities wish to exceed the proposed taxing limit.
That’s right. The 4% property tax rollback (down from the current 8%) would limit local governments from growing property tax revenue above the new cap only if voters refuse to give their nod of approval.
Politicians enjoy being called public servants—they just don’t like governing as such.
It must be frustrating for politicians who are actually accountable to those who elected them. After all, the reason voters elect politicians in the first place is because they are benevolent, infallible and know what’s best for Texans—don’t they?
Our recent experience objectively tells a different story. Over the last ten years, property tax revenues collected by local governments have grown much faster than our state’s population, after adjusting for inflation. That means for every Texan, including all newcomers to the state, the relative burden of government is growing faster than it should.
Current law puts the onus on citizens to launch a signature petition drive to stop runaway politicians. SB 182 would require politicians to first justify the increase to voters and receive their permission prior to growing government. The reform returns politicians to their proper role as servants, not masters.
The fact that so many loud voices oppose voter-approval isn’t surprising. Many in government consider citizens an annoyance—an impediment to advancing their political careers. But Texans shouldn’t allow themselves to be intimidated by local officials selfishly seeking to avoid greater accountability.
In fact, Texans should pay careful attention to officials willing to publicly fight these wildly popular reforms, with an eye towards the next election cycle where they can retire arrogant politicians from public service altogether.