Legislative Priority: Give Voters A Say On Excessive Tax Hikes

Voters should automatically be given a voice on excessive property tax increases.

State law does not currently require that all local governments obtain voter approval for tax hikes that exceed the state’s “rollback” limit. The “rollback” limit is essentially the percentage localities can increase property taxes on the existing tax base before voters have the option to challenge it.

While school districts are required to hold public elections on excessive tax increases, cities, counties, and other localities are not. As a result, local officials habitually take advantage of taxpayers who have no effective remedy to stop them.

Under current law, taxpayers only have one option—a burdensome petition drive.

In both rural and urban areas, this onerous process requires that taxpayers collect an overwhelming number of voter signatures over a very short period of time – and hire lawyers to protect their validity – before a public vote on the proposed tax increase is triggered.

Politicians routinely instruct their staff to fight and discredit these efforts. They also spend taxpayer money on lawyers to resist holding public votes, forcing citizens to file expensive lawsuits.

Upon closer review, it becomes obvious that state laws pertaining to the citizen-petition process were designed to thwart voters in favor of money-hungry governments. These petition requirements should be replaced with automatic elections.

If history is any guide, local governments and their tax-funded associations such as the Texas Municipal League will vehemently oppose any reform aimed at empowering voters. Lawmakers have a simple choice—either side with local politicians and their tax-funded lobbyists, or Texas taxpayers.

Tell the Legislature: Texans Need Property Tax Relief!

Texas homeowners pay the fourth highest property taxes nationwide, making it harder for Texans to stay in their own home and for potential homebuyers to enter the market. That’s not something Texans should be proud of.

Additionally, with so many local taxing entities overlapping a single taxpayer, it’s virtually impossible for the average citizen to hold entities accountable.

Rather than simply aiming to slow down the rate of growth in property taxes burdens from year to year, it’s time the Legislature pass meaningful property tax reform that provides relief.

Help us pass meaningful property tax relief this session!

Share the message! Help us pass meaningful property tax relief this session!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ross Kecseg leads the Metroplex Bureau for Empower Texans and Texas Scorecard. He is a native North Texan, raised in Denton County. He studied Economics at Arizona State University with an emphasis on Public Policy and Constitutional history. Since 2008, Ross has been active in grassroots organizing, political campaigns and as an Irving ISD volunteer. He enjoys speaking to liberty-minded groups regarding the strategic effectiveness of state and local engagement. Ross is an avid golfer, automotive enthusiast, and movie/music junkie.

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