Nichols’ & Bettencourt’s tax bills empower taxpayers

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Robert Pratt

On Monday’s program I brought up an article out of the Lubbock newspaper on bills before the Legislature which affect local taxing and spending for counties and municipalities. The story was similar to others which ran around the state with the same tone. In the Mudslide story a county commissioner and a mayor were harping on two bills SB156 by Nichols and SB182 by Bettencourt.

The argument offered was that these bills somehow are an attack on local control and would put cuffs on local government limiting the ability to raise revenue for the ever present list of needs, wants and good ideas.

The problem with the arguments put forth is just like those on the Campus CHL bill I addressed yesterday – the arguments are based on a fabrication. Most likely local elected folk haven’t read the bill texts and are just parroting the propaganda from the Texas Municipal League and Texas Association of Counties – both groups dedicated to getting as much of your money as possible with the fewest hurdles to get it.

All Bettencourt’s bill does is lower the threshold at which citizens can have a tax rollback election from an eight percent to four percent threshold on a tax increase. This doesn’t limit local government from doing anything. And Nichols’ bill changes the cap on the amount your appraisal can increase in one year from ten percent now to five percent – but as I read it – it allows for a county election to be called through which citizens can vote to OK a higher cap if local needs dictate. It’s full local control but local control from the taxpayers.

Also the appraised value cap being lowered from ten to five percent, again a cap changeable by local election, doesn’t mean that the tax rate cannot be increased to gain more revenue. It’s just that doing such requires local officials to go on record to vote for such – something they try and avoid letting appraisal creep fill the coffers ever higher budget after budget.

I’ve read both bills and see nothing that puts cuffs on local government, just measures that empower the taxpayers who own the local governments to put in [a rollback election] or loosen limitations [having an election to raise the cap on appraised value increases].

See more here: Local officials fabricate claims about appraisal cap legislation

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