"He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck,
Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."
Four years ago, we called Joe Straus an Obstacle to Prosperity; alongside Empower Texans, we made the following observation:
House Speaker Joe Straus refuses to make any commitments towards reducing spending, opposing new taxes, or preserving a strong Rainy Day Fund. He's sent out many signals since the end of the 82nd session indicating the state should instead look for more revenue....Joe Straus' spendthrift leadership is an obstacle to prosperity Texas cannot afford.That was late 2012. Since then, we've had the DISASTROUS 83rd session and the mediocre 84th. While the 84th provided a small amount of tax relief (and a watered down gold bill), every other structural economic reform (eg. constitutional spending limits, restrictions on local debt, property tax APPRAISAL reform) has died.
And with those actions come predictable consequences:
Texas’ national economic rating has declined this year, according to a study conducted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). High property taxes, a local debt crisis, unfunded public pensions, and a large government workforce drove the downgrade.Bottom Line: We hate to say we told you so....
Although Texas doesn’t have a state income tax for individuals, it relies on locally-levied property taxes creating a heavy burden on homeowners and businesses, ranking 14th most oppressive in the nation.
The 84th legislature did little to address this problem, while the Straus-appointed House conferees gutted the Senate’s tax relief proposal that ultimately passed, diminishing its long-term benefit to taxpayers.
The total debt service owed by Texans ranks 2nd highest in the nation, and originates primarily from cities, school districts, and counties. For example, local school districts hold a collective $117 billion in debt, spending ten cents of every educational dollar on interest expense annually.