Abbott is Right and Texas Mayors Are Wrong

A group of Texas mayors penned a letter to the governor opposing several of his special-session priorities. While they claim the reforms are a state takeover that erodes “local control,” the exact opposite is true—they empower Texas property owners.

“Local control” sounds noble, until you realize it’s being hijacked to protect local government control and bully their taxpaying constituents.

Let’s explore some of Abbott’s priorities which the mayors called “harmful”:

Limiting Annexation Authority

Cities are currently spending taxpayer dollars lobbying to protect one of the most offensive abuses of property rights in recent memory — “forced annexation.” Under current law, cities are allowed to force themselves onto property owners outside the city’s jurisdiction, and without obtaining the property owners’ approval.

It amounts to taxation without representation. Texans can be taxed and regulated by politicians they did not elect, and without voter consent. The 18 mayors who signed the opposition letter support this deplorable practice.

Revenue Caps

The term “revenue cap” itself is a misnomer. The popular tax proposal supported by Abbott would simply give local taxpayers a vote on excessive property tax hikes.

State law already requires voter approval for school districts, which is why “TRE” (tax ratification elections) and bond elections exist. Abbott’s reform would simply require elections for all local taxing entities. This reform passed the Senate during the regular session, but was gutted in the House.

Even if voters rejected a proposed tax hike, that city or county would still be allowed to raise taxes and increase its budget. In fact, the most conservative Senate proposal would still allow for a 20-percent tax increase on a city’s existing residents, over a five-year period.

Spending Caps

Unlike the state, local governments do not face a legislative spending limit of any kind. Since spending ultimately drives tax increases, conservative lawmakers want a limit for local entities that allows for population growth and inflation.

Under Abbott’s proposal, governments in booming areas could still grow their budgets faster than sluggish areas. The mayors’ claim that “growing communities” are not provided “flexibility” under Abbott’s proposal is, at best, misleading.

Spending limits are good fiscal policy. They force officials to prioritize core needs and reevaluate their budgets. Instead of wasting millions on handouts to corporations, lobbying lawmakers, and other non-essential bloat, localities would be forced to focus on core functions, such as roads and public safety.

Measures Preempting Local Development Ordinances

Texas property owners should be protected from local overregulation. The fact that Abbott’s “tree” ordinance has been so widely ridiculed by liberal newspapers shows how hostile liberals are to property rights.

When a buyer purchases a property, they own the property and all its assets, not the government. There are other examples of egregious ordinances, such as amortization, where cities can suddenly deny an entrepreneur a permit to operate their existing business. State laws that preempt burdensome overregulation by Texas’ localities should be celebrated, not scorned.

Below are the 18 Texas Mayors who signed a letter opposing reforms designed to empower Texas property owners:

Tell the Texas Legislature: #PassThemAll

Gov. Greg Abbott has called a special session of the Texas Legislature, providing each of you a second chance to pass conservative reforms that were killed in the House during the regular session.

"If I'm going to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a special session, I intend to make it count," Abbott said as he laid out a robust, conservative agenda for the 30-day special session.

Abbott’s list of 20 issues is almost entirely comprised of major, conservative policy goals that taxpayers have been demanding for years. Issues such as property tax reform, strong state and local spending limits, and ending the government collection of labor union dues.

Each part of Abbott’s agenda would represent a major victory for citizens, and it’s time for both chambers of the Texas Legislature to stop rationing reforms, stand up for taxpayers, and answer his call.

My message is simple: #PassThemAll!

Help spread the word for lawmakers to PASS THEM ALL!


Let your friends know you are calling on legislators to #PassThemAll!

Ross Kecseg

Ross Kecseg is the Vice President of Local Affairs for Empower Texans and leads the Metroplex Bureau. He is a native North Texan, raised in Denton County. He studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and U.S. Constitutional history. Since 2008, Ross has been active in the Republican Party, grassroots organizing, in journalism, and as a volunteer for state and local political campaigns. He enjoys speaking to liberty-minded Texans regarding property tax reform and the importance of local civic engagement. Ross is an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie.

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