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TCTU’s Roger Falk Testimony Supporting HB-2, Protecting Taxpayers

HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE
WRITTEN TESTIMONY ON HOUSE BILL 2
ROGER FALK – ANALYST, TRAVIS COUNTY TAXPAYERS UNION
TCTUTV@gmail.com • 512-258-5953
February 27, 2019
Honorable Committee members:
Thank you for the opportunity to testify in favor of House Bill 2.  The Travis County Taxpayers Union enthusiastically supports House Bill 2,
particularly the improved transparency, reduction of the rollback trigger to 2.5% and the automatic November rollback/tax election requirement.  Many taxing jurisdictions exploit escalating property appraisals to impose “stealth” tax increases. This drives gentrification and un-affordability, harmful to Texans struggling to maintain a domicile. Many of these jurisdictions, in an effort to drum up disapproval, falsely claim this legislation caps their revenue, as they fall silent regarding their option to petition voters for higher increases. These same “leaders”, are using threats of emergency service cuts, to extort opposition. They don’t want to be accountable to their citizens and taxpayers. This deceptive behavior is particularly acute in the Austin area.
The automatic tax election section is vital and enables the ultimate “local control”; the voice of local citizen voters and taxpayers.
We implore the committee members to hold the 2.5% line in this legislation. It is both sensible and logical.
This legislation could have chilling effect on local homestead exemption or tax freezes, unless the “no new revenue” calculation allows deducting the associated revenue loss. One final point on local taxation:
Election Code section 3.009 ‘truth in borrowing’ disclosure, is not being respected. Local taxing units have developed a bad habit of routinely violating this statute with impunity. They mislead voters with false cost calculations and misleading claims like “no tax RATE increase” to sell debt. A summary of the disclosure should be required on the ballot showing the proposed measure’s estimated cost per $100,000 of property valuation.  Texas property owners should NOT be a perpetual fountain of increasing funding, to slake the unquenchable spending thirst of our local politicians.