This Saturday the Texas House will take up Senate Bill 1, a dangerous bill that would limit the ability of local governments to raise the revenue needed to pay for public safety, health care, parks, libraries and other services their communities want.
How would it work? Under current law, local governments can choose to increase their property-tax revenue (not including taxes from new construction) by up to eight percent a year. This can happen, for example, in response to demands by residents for better or expanded services. If local leaders propose a tax increase larger than eight percent, then voters may petition for a “rollback election” that would “roll back” the proposed tax increase to the eight percent limit. The House version of SB 1 would cut the cap to six percent and require a special election, without the need for a petition.
The Dallas Morning News and others have thoroughly debunked the fuzzy math that the bill’s Senate author and others have been using to justify their plan. If legislators really want to lower property taxes, they should remodel our outdated school finance system and commit the state to its fair share of investing in our children’s future.
Instead, the dangerous proposal put forward by SB 1 would interfere in local decisions and hamstring the ability of Texas’ cities and counties to address the changing needs of their residents. In fact, a lower rollback rate might actually increase annual taxes as responsible local financial officers attempt to build up cash reserves against the possibility of a future emergency that would require a higher tax rate.