BAD U.S. GOP HEALTHCARE BILL PULLED DOWN
Today, moments before the U.S. House of Representatives was going to vote on the U.S. GOP healthcare bill, the bill was pulled down from consideration because it did not have the votes to pass. Though the bill is not dead, this is a major victory for the continuation of the Affordable Care Act. More info can be read here at the Washington Post.
Senate Bill Will Limit Local Control
On Tuesday the Senate passed Senate Bill 2 (SB 2), filed by Senator Paul Bettencourt of Houston, which puts in place a de-facto revenue cap for local government that could cut funding to local police, fire, roads, emergency medical services and more. SB 2 cuts nearly in half the amount by which local governments can increase their tax revenue without a special election, which the bill would make mandatory.
Revenue caps come at the cost of under funding police departments, fire departments, and public education. Senate Bill 2 does not provide significant tax relief. However it does create a long list of challenges that will be detrimental to Texans from all corners of the state in the long run.
Texas local governments – cities, counties, community colleges and hospital districts – provide vital services to their constituents. Locally elected officials decide how to provide these services and how to pay for them, an arrangement that reflects the values and desires of local voters. The Texas Legislature is now threatening to interfere in these local decisions by limiting the ability of local governments to collect enough revenue needed to deliver the public safety, health care, education, parks, libraries and other services their communities want.
Under Senate Bill 2, if revenue raised by local entities increases by more than 5 percent, an automatic rollback election is held. This can happen even in situations where the amount an individual pays in taxes remains the same, because when cities grow, the revenue raised increases because there are more people and companies paying taxes.
Additionally, this bill is unnecessary because people can already vote to roll back the revenue increase if the revenue is increased by more than 8 percent and they petition for an election to be held on the issue. Furthermore, if the citizens do not agree with the actions of their local government, they can vote them out.
It is important to remember why Texas relies so heavily on property taxes: to fund public schools. In 2011, the Legislature cut $5.4 billion from public education and has yet to fully restore those cuts. Texas has no state income tax, therefore it relies heavily on sales and property taxes. The state and local entities split sales taxes, but only local entities receive property taxes. It’s unconstitutional for the state to levy property taxes, and state lawmakers don’t have the power to set those rates. If property taxes are the problem, the solution begins with the funding of public schools.
Senate Bill 2 is on its way to the Texas House. I will work diligently with fellow House members to make sure this bill never gets to the Governor’s desk. I will continue to keep you updated on this issue.
Thanks to Houston Matters on KUHF News 88.7, Houston’s local NPR station for having me on their show this morning to discuss The Sandra Bland Act. Click here for more information.
Our song of the week is “I Can’t Go for That” by Hall and Oates.