Monday, July 17, 2017

#TXLEGE: Today's TPPF #SpecialSession Policy Orientation

"Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them."
Ezekiel 38:7

TPPF hosted a supplemental policy orientation today with a mix of speakers and panels; the following is a direct transcription of our notes.

Governor Greg Abbott:
  • Teachers are the most important part of the education process.
  • Reward the best teachers.
  • School finance -- What has been studied previously is not adequate.
    • No more "band aids over band aids."
    • End Robin Hood.
  • Current education structure focuses on "schools, not students."
  • Cities have enacted policies that are hostile to economic growth.
    • "If we don't stop this, real quick, we are in real danger."
  • Taxpayers should have a say in tax increases.
    • #1 issue we must address.
  • Private property rights are being diminished across Texas.
  • "I want a vote" on union dues bill.
  • Dallas mail in ballot fraud nothing new.
    • Been going on since (at least) Lyndon Johnson.
    • Removing paid political operatives from the process.
  • Publishing lists of special session items re: who's supporting/who's not "on a daily basis."

Lt. Gov Dan Patrick:
  • Points out Straus laying foundation for state income tax in the first paragraph.
    • Along with Democrats and school district officials.
  • 52% of budget goes to education.
  • Teachers only get 32% of education $$$.
  • "It's not an unfunded districts need to re-purpose the money."
  • Teachers unions oppose higher pay for teachers.
  • Math is math.
  • "Governor Abbott and I do not want Texas to become California or Illinois."
  • "Greg Abbott's priorities are my priorities."
  • Property taxes #1 priority.
  • House has lots of members who will vote the right way "if they get the chance."
  • "Texas likes fighters, not quitters."
  • "We've shown that big government Republicans are wrong."
  • re: Straus: "Don't undermine the entire party and the entire state."
From Left: Talmadge Heflin (TPPF), Sen. Kelly Hancock, Rep. Craig Goldman, Sen. Bryan Hughes, Patrick Gleason (ATR)

State level fiscal policy panel:
  • Statewide spending limits needs to go down to (population + inflation).
  • Hancock: Abbott created conference committees before the bills were even filed.
  • Public sector unions are bankrupting California.
  • Hancock: Spending is where you control the growth of government.
    • (Population + inflation) is a real cap.
    • Note: As this session's budget can attest, (population + inflation) is more of a bare minimum than a real cap...but it would still be a significant improvement on the status quo.
  • Gleason: It's easier to pass things in other states when Texas has done it.
  • Gleason: Kansas cut taxes, but failed to keep spending in check.
From Left: Sen. Donna Campbell, Sen. Paul Bettencourt, Rep. Paul Workman
Local Liberty Panel:
  • Cities are doing power grabs to increase their tax base.
  • Annexation: Cities have been unrestrained for decades.
    • Campbell's bill expedites voluntary annexation.
    • Texas is one of the last states in the country to permit voluntary annexation.
  • Property Taxes: Revenue up >30% in all the major counties over the past few years.
    • Anywhere you go in the state, appraisals are up at least 15% annually.
    • School districts have to hold tax ratification elections past a certain threshold; you need a similar mechanism for cities and counties.
    • Current rollback petition requirements "are fictitious nonsense."
    • Rollback rates have been >5% since Jimmy Carter.
    • Bettencourt supports 0% rollback rate but doesn't currently have the votes.
    • Texas currently chasing New York and Illinois on property tax burdens.
  • Tree Bill: Heritage trees add value to property, so cutting them down is rare, but in the cases where it's necessary it's none of the government's business.
    • Westlake tried to fine a property owner $100k for cutting down a tree on his own property.
  • Expedited Permitting: Workman's bill states that cities can have expedited permitting, but doesn't allow them to add strings to the process.

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