Years of liberal thought and management at the local level have created major systemic problems that threaten the Texan way of life.
On the fiscal front, cities, counties, school districts, and special districts have accumulated a staggering amount of debt; skyrocketing property tax bills are among the worst in the nation; local spending is growing faster than basic economic measures like population and inflation; and soaring public pension obligations incurred by state-protected local retirement systems threaten utter disaster.
On the property rights front, city governments are abusing homeowners’ fundamental rights via the use of involuntary annexation; cities are enacting ordinances in violation of state law that prohibits consumers from using everyday items, like plastic bags; and major metropolitans have pushed through special interest policies that trample on the constitutional rights of short-term rental owners.
Then, of course, there’s the need to educate voters at the ballot box on the actual cost of the bond propositions; to address the misuse of local economic development incentives; and to bring special purpose districts out from the shadows.
Needless to say, there are a lot of opportunities for the 85th Texas Legislature to institute conservative reforms on a variety of different fronts. Encouragingly, there are also plenty of reason to believe lawmakers will take action. In recent years, many state officials have awakened to the damage done by a creeping liberal local agenda and the need for legislative action to guard against the California-zation of Texas.
Though improving the local public policymaking process may be an uphill battle in some cases, it’s a battle that conservatives can and should win