Harris County Budget Battle - While Hidalgo/Dems Grandstand, Cagle and Ramsey Stand Up for Taxpayers
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
On 10/17/22, Harris County Commissioners Court Democratic members Lina Hidalgo, Rodney Ellis, and Adrian Garcia continued to berate Republican Commissioners Tom Ramsey and Jack Cagle for blocking their "tax cut" proposal to lower property tax rates. The Democrats claim that, if their "tax cut" isn't approved, essential county government services will be reduced (e.g. law enforcement, hospital district services, flood control projects). So, how can a failed "tax cut" result in reduced services? Well, quite frankly, Hidalgo, Ellis, and Garica are being disingenuous. Due to higher property appraisals, their tax rate plan will actually result in Harris County residents paying $257 million dollars MORE in county taxes. Republican Commissioners Ramsey and Cagle correctly identified that as a "tax hike", not a "tax cut". By not attending recent Commissioners Court meetings, Ramsey and Cagle have prevented the Democrats' tax hike by denying them the required quorum (under state law, four court members must be present to set new property tax rates). Now, Commissioners Ramsey and Cagle have submitted counterproposals, with even lower tax rates, that still fund hiring 200 new police officers, increase hospital district funding, and fund more flood control projects. While Democrats claim they are willing to negotiate, they have done little more than grandstand, cast aspersions, mislead the public, and threaten to cut government services. The Republicans know that if they attend a Commissioners Court meeting before 10/28/22 (the tax rate deadline) without a deal, the Democrats will impose their tax hike plan via a 3-2 party-line vote, with no compromises. If new tax rates are not set by 10/28/22, Harris County will revert to the "No New Revenue" tax rate, which would still result in county government collecting approximately $60 million more in property tax revenue next year due to completions in new residential and commercial construction.
Harris County government funding is already at a record level, but Hidalgo, Ellis, and Garica just continue to waste our money (expanded the bloated county bureaucracy, spent millions on consultant studies and outside legal firms, created numerous unnecessary programs, awarded expensive no-bid contracts, etc.). Rather than just eliminating all the waste and properly prioritizing their spending, Hidalgo, Ellis, and Garcia just keep demanding more money to spend. Last year alone, Harris County government revenue was up 7.3%, yet it appears that more is never enough. As fiscal conservatives and Harris County taxpayers, we are ok with the Republicans sitting this one out. Sometimes the only way to reduce wasteful government spending is to cap the amount of money our government has available to spend. Geez.
For more information on this issue, as well as the Commissioners Court circus (meeting) held yesterday, please click on the links below:
UPDATE 10/26/22: It's now official. Commissioners Ramsey and Cagle skipped the Commissioners Court meeting yesterday and thus blocked the new property tax rates proposed by County Judge Hidalgo and Commissioners Ellis and Garcia (again, which would have cost county taxpayers an additional $257 million dollars). Instead, Harris County government will now adopt the "No New Revenue" property tax rate, which will still result in $60 million MORE in property tax revenue due to new residential and commercial construction. Despite that additional tax revenue, Hidalgo, Ellis, and Garcia claim that core government services will now have to be cut (e.g. law enforcement agencies, the DA's Office, hospital services, flood control projects). Of course, this is from the same Democratic leaders who recently approved $53 million dollars to build new bicycle paths and spent over $2.5 million dollars to help people who entered the U.S. illegally avoid deportation - see the links below:
Yesterday, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg called out Hidalgo, Ellis, and Garcia, bluntly telling them to prioritize core government services over their wasteful projects and programs. Afterward, D.A. Ogg told the media, "Government spending is all about priorities. Couldn’t we have a shorter bike trail? Couldn’t we have fewer beautification projects in neighborhoods? I don’t see these budget items being cut.” - click link below for more details:
Frankly, we strongly believe the best way to stop the wasteful county government spending and resolve our artificial "budget crisis" is for Harris County voters to elect new leadership. To that end, we endorsed Alexandra del Moral Mealer for County Judge and Jack Morman for Harris County Commissioner, Precinct 2. Early voting has already begun, with Election Day on November 8, 2022. To view all of our candidate endorsements, please click on the link below:
NOTE: Yesterday, a reporter asked Commissioner Ramsey if he was going to refund his paycheck because he boycotted the last several Commissioner Court meetings. Since Ramsey's absence saved Harris County taxpayers $257 million dollars, we think he definitely earned his paycheck!
FOR MORE POSTS, please routinely check HarrisCountyDemocrats.com.