Sen. Rodríguez votes for local control, against flawed property tax bill, S.B. 2
Austin – State Sen. José Rodríguez issued the following statement regarding his vote on SB 2, which received preliminary approval today from the Texas Senate:
I appreciate the effort to address rising property taxes, but S.B. 2 falls far short of the mark. It will not provide true property tax relief, which can only be achieved when the state fulfills its obligations to adequately fund public schools.
Local elected officials know their communities and their needs. Without a doubt, people want local governments to provide basic services. While Texans may be split on the question of revenue caps, they are overwhelmingly in support of local government having the ability to meet local needs like police, fire, and emergency medical services.
There are several other issues with this bill. First, it does not account for the unfunded mandates the state places on local governments. From court costs to emergency rooms and prescriptions for prisoners, local governments spend millions to comply with these unfunded state mandates.
Second, the term used to describe this new rollback rate, “voter-approved,” is misleading. It is not a voter-approved tax rate. It is a state-mandated rate until an actual election is held. Local voters should be given the opportunity to opt in, and have their unique circumstances be taken into consideration. For example, the economic impact on El Paso other border cities of events out of our control, such as a border shutdown.
Finally, this approach is regressive, hurting low-income Texans and low-property wealth communities the most. Studies show that revenue caps result in higher fees, fines, and other revenue generators that impact middle- and low-income the most. Shifting the burden and hampering local communities while failing to provide real relief is simply not good public policy.
I agree that we need property tax reform that helps those who need it most. But we need to help, not hinder, local communities, and we need to make sure the reform reaches the property taxpayer without imposing new burdens on working Texans. This bill is more symbolic than substantive as far as property tax relief; it is a purely political statement that will yield little return for homeowners. Consequently, I could not vote for it.
José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Agriculture (Vice Chair); Natural Resources and Economic Development; Transportation; and Water & Rural Affairs.
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