Misguided Senate Bill 2 Could Tie Hands of Cities and Counties

Dick Lavine

This post was updated on 5/17/17. 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 […]

Let’s Go Back to the Future

Dick Lavine

Why talk about the 2020-21 Texas state budget when lawmakers are still deciding the 2018-19 budget? It’s because the decisions our state leaders make now will have dramatic effects on the ability of the next Legislature to support health care, public education and other key services when they return to write a budget in January […]

The Texas Legislature: A Lesson in How Not to Learn a Lesson

Dick Lavine

You would think that, having just written proposed state budgets that would underfund or cut health care, financial aid, and more, the Texas Legislature would want to avoid similar tight budget sessions in the future. But, here we are in 2017 preparing to repeat the mistakes of the past. Lawmakers are actively considering two bills […]

SB 17: A time bomb that could blow up future state budgets

Dick Lavine

CPPP opposes SB 17, which would guarantee tight state budgets into the future.

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 […]