Election Day is near and it’ll soon be time for voters to decide on the most contentious issues of the moment: which politicians to elect, what propositions to pass, and how much, if any, new debt to approve.
Every voter has to make up his or her own mind on the ballot questions before them. But across the whole and before any decision is made, voters should ask themselves this: What kind of government do I want?
Do I want the kind of government that can control even the smallest details of my life? A government that has the power to decide the kind of grocery bag that I can use, the employee benefits that my business must offer, or the types of trees that I can and cannot cut down on my land?
Or do I want the kind of government that offers a bold vision rooted in traditional values? A government that understands that liberty is the pathway to prosperity, and follows the old adage: “That government is best which governs least.”
How voters answer this question in the end will have a big impact on public policy moving forward. That’s especially true when it comes to the next Texas Legislature.
Two months after Election Day is over, state lawmakers will gather again in Austin to kick off the start of the 86th Texas Legislature. And this will be no ordinary session.
Many controversial issues await lawmakers upon their return — issues as difficult and wide-ranging as school finance, teacher retirement, taxpayer-funded lobbying, mandatory paid sick leave, forced annexation and more.
But the biggest and toughest of them all is going to be property tax reform. The issue is something of a Gordian knot and how lawmakers attempt to loose it will be heavily influenced by what voters decided a few months prior.
If voters elect to send a more conservative body to Austin in January, then lawmakers could try to solve the problem by attacking the root cause: local government largesse. To rein them in, lawmakers could limit local governments’ ability to raise property taxes to 2.5 percent per year unless otherwise approved by voters. Lawmakers may also push for eliminating a portion of the property tax, replacing the lost revenues through either a reformed sales tax or a stronger spending limit.
If, however, voters decide to send a more liberal body to the Capitol, then lawmakers could attempt to solve the problem by increasing spending. Some on the Left have theorized that more state spending will lead to lower local property taxes — even if there’s no evidence for it and school districts have shown little fiscal restraint.
Whichever direction voters decide to go, there’s no doubt about it: There’s a lot at stake this November.
Tuesday’s election results will help to define the kind of government that we have here in the Lone Star State and how we approach tough issues, particularly on taxes and education. So it’s critically important that Texans make up their mind on what they want out of their state and local officials, and then make their voices heard in the voting booth.