The 85th Texas Legislature is set to convene in 6 months’ time, promising to provide small government conservatives with yet another opportunity to rein in local government excess on a number of different fronts (e.g. local debt, annexation, property taxes, state-governed pension plans, and municipal micromanagement of ridesharing to name a few). But if the coming session is anything like the last legislative session, then realizing reform will be no easy task.
During the last legislative session, local government officials and their Austin-based associations were out in force, making the case that the Legislature ought not interfere with “local control.” But, as conservatives countered, the principle was never intended to justify tyrannical policies and, more importantly, “liberty always trumps local control.”
That same debate—Local Control vs. Local Liberty—looks again to be a major theme of the session. Along those lines, Empower Texans yesterday published an excellent article that lays out the issue well.
From the article:
Counties, cities, and all manner of special purpose districts (which include our independent school districts) are creations of the state government. They exist at the sole discretion of the state; receive their responsibilities, powers, and restrictions from the state; and are subject to the direction of the state.
The government which governs least governs best, and when the political subdivisions of the state overreach, it is the responsibility of the state to intervene on behalf of its citizens.
Local control is a tool, not a rule…
Understanding the proper role and value of local control—and getting state and local leaders to do the same—is a critical part of achieving conservative reforms next session. Without that understanding and the will to act on it, we risk seeing the continued “California-zation” of Texas under the state quo.