"But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God."
Watchdog outlines a subtle, but important, issue:
When former Texas Comptroller Susan Combs issued a report in 2012 on special purpose districts — largely invisible layers of government with the power to charge property and sales taxes — there were 1,675 of the suckers.If you're a conservative, eliminating most (if not all) of these districts is a no-brainer; it's a testament to the entrenched power of taxpayer funded lobbyists that the number of these entities is exploding when it should be collapsing.
She sounded the alarm, waived the flag and irritated a few people in the process. But the special purpose districts continued to sprout up all over the state, now growing to about 2,000.
Combs is still beating the drum about the issue, even though she’s since left public office.
“There has been no effort to rein any of this in,” she said Friday.
Indeed, these ghost-like governments have continued to proliferate, according to data from the comptroller’s office. According to U.S. Census data, as of 2012, Texas has the third most special districts in the nation, trailing only California and Illinois.
Although a legislative committee was set up in 2013 to oversee the districts, Combs said, “They won’t do anything.” The lobby supporting the districts, from law firms that make a lot of money off the districts to mayors to judges to school superintendents, has been too powerful. Combs tried to get a transparency bill passed in 2013, but it was killed twice on the House floor on points of order.
“There’s a lot of interests that have a huge financial stake in the districts,” said John Colyandro, executive director of the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute in Austin. “Particularly those with not just taxing authority, but with bonding authority and that’s quite a lucrative area to be in.”
Here in Travis County, we're actually somewhat lucky. While there are some small MUD's and water districts in outlying areas, for most of the County Central Health (our hospital district) is the only special district to which we're subjected. Of course, their record is bad enough.
Enter Jay Wiley.
Last September, following their most recent abomination, Jay Wiley endorsed ABOLISHING Central Health. To our knowledge, Jay Wiley is the first candidate to explicitly campaign on eliminating a specific local entity. That stands in contrast with an incumbent who filed a bill last session to create a NEW special purpose district in Western Travis County.
Bottom Line: To curtail these unaccountable sources of taxation, legislators need to eliminate them within their districts. Unfortunately, the taxpayer funded lobbyist industrial complex loves these entities. Kudos to Jay Wiley for endorsing the elimination of Travis' County's "Central Health" hospital district....