Fair aint got nothing to do with it. Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven.
As they observe the present legislative session, commissioners court members certainly are gaining a clear understanding of the above quote. Mandate bills, revenue caps and appraisal caps slide through the process, while unfunded mandate protection languishes in committee. What does it mean?
Prior to 1993, the Legislature generally followed a policy of benign neglect toward local government. Other than an occasional mandate, little attention was paid to the activities of counties and cities.
However, in the last two years, the state leadership has fashioned a new role for local government scapegoat. Facing increasing criticism over rising property taxes, the state leadership has branded local government with the label of big taxers/big spenders. Urban legislators with little local government background are eagerly seeking to appease a small vocal group of anti-government protestors.
Ignoring the fact that property taxes have increased from a lack of state education support, the Legislature has proposed a series of drastic limitations upon local government budgets. To secure the title of tax-basher for the next election, our state leaders have branded local government officials as untrustworthy and incompetent. Although elected by the same voters as local officials, the state has decided that only the Legislature has sufficient wisdom to set sound, fiscal policy.
Where will this arrogant attitude lead? If continued into future sessions, the inevitable result of the squeeze between inflation, mandates, and increased demand for services on one hand and the inflexible limitations of revenue and appraisal caps on the other, will fully eliminate the discretion of local officials for all local governments and force court receivership on some.
Remember the legislators who stand with us against these dangerous, politically activated policies, and certainly remember those who support this medley of mandates and caps to promote their hopefully short-lived careers.
For more information, please call me at 1-800-733-0699.
Jim Allison, General Counsel CJCAT