Misguided Senate Bill 2 Could Tie Hands of Cities and Counties

Dick Lavine

Texas local governments – cities, counties, community colleges and hospital districts – provide vital services to their constituents. Locally elected officials decide how to provide these services and how to pay for them, an arrangement that reflects the values and desires of local voters. The Texas Legislature is now threatening to interfere in these local […]

A Dangerous Sign for Legislative Transparency

Dick Lavine

Update, 2/1/2017: The Legislative Budget Board’s GEER staff report is out. Read it here. Today at a Senate Finance Committee Hearing, Legislative Budget Board Director Ursula Parks stated that Lt. Governor Dan Patrick had instructed the LBB not to release the Government Effectiveness and Efficiency Report (GEER) this year. The 2015 GEER was full of […]

New Report: Income Inequality Especially Bad in Texas

Dick Lavine

Texas is among the states with the highest income inequality, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Texas ranks 10th in the country, with its richest residents— the top five percent of households— having average incomes 15 times as large as the bottom 20 percent of households and five […]

Have Property Taxes Gone Up, Really?

Dick Lavine, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities

Property taxes are the major source of support for local public services – schools, emergency services, roads, parks and libraries. They are also among the most unpopular of all state and local taxes. Many taxpayers complain that their property tax bill can go up, even if their ability to pay that bill does not. So […]

The Case for a Flat-Dollar Exemption

Dick Lavine

In the 2015 session, legislators considered a promising proposed constitutional amendment to give cities, counties, and other local taxing units the option of lowering property taxes through a flat-dollar homestead exemption. The measure passed the Senate and the House Ways & Means Committee with significant support, but failed to come up for a full House […]

The Least-Worst Way to Under-Invest

Dick Lavine, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities

Tax cuts are the wrong priority – Texans would be better served if lawmakers increased investments in public services. However, as I told members of the House Ways & Means Committee late Tuesday night, if lawmakers feel they have to cut taxes, then increasing the school homestead exemption (SB 1/SJR 1 by Sen. Jane Nelson) is […]

Flat-Dollar Homestead Exemption Benefits Homeowners and Municipalities

Dick Lavine, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities

In Texas, school districts grant residential homeowners a flat-dollar-amount homestead exemption of $15,000, but local governments are currently prohibited from doing the same. While they can offer percentage exemptions, the ability to offer flat-dollar-amount homestead exemptions would benefit both homeowners and local taxing entities. At present, more than 800 Texas cities, and more than half […]

Headline From the Future: Who Passed All These Short-Sighted Tax Cuts?

Dick Lavine, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities

Public attention is currently focused on the large tax-cut bills that both the House and the Senate passed, in different forms. The House plan, which would reduce the rates of the sales and franchise tax, would cut the amount of General Revenue (GR) available to fund the 2016-17 budget by $4.9 billion. The Senate plan, […]

Impact of Lower Oil Prices to State Revenue

Dick Lavine, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities

The price of oil, which was over $100 per barrel last summer, has lately been selling at half that amount. Drilling new wells has slowed down, so we’re left to wonder: What happens to state revenue if oil and gas tax revenues fall? Here’s the answer: For every billion dollars that oil and gas production […]

Tax Policy Proposals Recap

Dick Lavine, Senior Fiscal Analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities

This week we’ve looked at a number of tax policy proposals coming out of the Senate, including those that are part of the $4.6 billion tax cut package announced by Senator Jane Nelson and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. We’re concerned that these proposals take Texas in the wrong direction at a time when our population […]