As the November election and the January Regular Session draw near, it is the opportune time for a personal visit with your state legislators. Those who are facing an election contest will be easy to locate, and even those without opposition generally appreciate a visit before the hectic Austin schedule begins.
There is much to discuss. Appraisal caps and revenue caps will reappear as legislative proposals. As discussed elsewhere in this edition of County Progress, the Texas Task Force on Appraisal Reform will add its recommendations before the regular session.
As we discuss the effect of caps and potential property tax reform, we need to remind our legislators that the real culprit is the increasing cost of our county operations. No member of commissioners court wants to increase taxes. However, when costs for essential services increase, we have few options for meeting our obligations. Counties should be given optional revenue sources, like cities and counties in other states, to reduce our dependency on the property tax.
In discussion of the legislative session issues, we should not overlook the continuing burden of unfunded mandates. Indigent health care, indigent criminal defense, prison overcrowding, election costs, and other responsibilities placed upon counties will be considered. The temptation to force the costs of these programs upon county taxpayers will continue until the Legislature adopts a constitutional amendment to prohibit unfunded mandates.
Please let me know the results of your visits with your legislators, and please remain prepared and vigilant during the session.
For more information, please call me at 1-800-733-0699.
Jim Allison, General Counsel CJCAT