Last legislative session efforts by Sen. Kyle Janek, Representatives Dwayne Bohac and Martha Wong came up short in limiting the increases in property taxes when the twenty-one-vote rule in the Senate stopped consideration.
Conservatives then and now still wonder how a Senate with a strong GOP majority couldn't even vote on this issue. With property taxes in some counties doubling every 7 years the squeeze on the middle class is accelerating. These rapid increases benefit local governments and school districts that get yearly tax increases that were never voted on! Many homeowners pay more in property taxes than they pay for their mortgage.
Some have suggested a number of solutions:
- The California Plan - Remember Prop 13 back in the 1960's and 70's? - limiting property tax increases with a cap at 2% per year.
- Tax Value Established When Home Purchased - This plan requires full disclosure but also allows predictability in home property taxes. The theory here is you should be taxed on what you paid not a speculative value (speculative because who knows what the house will be sold for). Nothing under the plan stops elected officials from raising property tax rates if need be.
- Zero-Based Property Taxes - This idea shifts the entire responsibility regarding tax increases to elected officials. Here is how it works - each year the average tax increase for the particular county is calculated and automatically the pertinent tax rates are adjusted so there is no additional revenue to the taxing entities. The elected officials then would have the opportunity to adjust the tax rate should they desire. This plan creates a hard cap.
- Lower the Cap on Increases from 10 to 5% - This was the Janek/Wong/Bohac plan. This plan is an improvement but still allows some unvoted for tax increases. Last session many local officials opposed this positive change but it passed the House - so it's probably the most passable.
TCR Comment - If conservatives focus on taking a strong stand that we oppose all unvoted for property-tax increases, we can promote tax limitation and accountability for our local officials regarding taxes and spending. That's not a bad idea.
Senate 2006 - If There's an Opening,
Who Should We Look To?
If Senator Hutchison doesn't run again we will have an open Senate seat race in Texas.
While TCR feels there are many well qualified candidates, if our goal is future party building there is an obvious choice - Representative Henry Bonilla.
Following President Bush's theory that people are policy - Bonilla would make a major statement in Texas about the ascendancy of Hispanics in the GOP. Added to that, Bonilla draws swing Hispanics and Democratic Hispanic voters into the GOP.
For example, this year in Dimmit County, with an 85 percent Hispanic population, Bonilla took 49.20 percent of the vote. In Presidio County, with an 84 percent Hispanic population, Bonilla picked up 50.33 percent of the vote and in Webb County, where 94 percent of the population is Hispanic, Bonilla won 57.95 percent of the vote. With those kind of numbers we can even a lot of races in the future.
It's clear according to Representative Bonilla that, "Hispanics need to know the Republican Party is not someone else's party, it's our party. Democrats take Hispanics for granted. They believe the color of your skin automatically determines where you fall on the political spectrum. I consider that a tremendous insult to people of color."
Yes, we have other good people to consider, but which candidate could do more to insure a GOP future in an increasingly Hispanic Texas than Henry Bonilla?
Did The Republican Party Of Texas
Try To Close The Barn Door
After The Chickens Flew The Coop?
On December 2, 2004, RPT State Chair Tina Benkiser issued an open letter about election challenges and fraud.
While TCR is not disputing that the Democrats played games where they could, but this wasn't to be expected.
So now that the Democrats may have stolen on election day three seats - Heflin in Houston, Opiela and Stick in Austin, the only way is an election contest which is challenging at best and clearly gives our enemies opportunities to beat us up with emerging voting blocks like the Asian community.
The better question the State Party has yet to answer is where were they on Election Day with the right ballot security program in the tight districts? The answer it seems is nowhere to be seen.
TCR Comment - It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out where to engage and how to do it. If the RPT had done this, maybe we wouldn't be reading about how three races were stolen. Next time close the barn door before not after the chicken escapes.
Happy Holidays From TCR
This holiday season we have a lot to be thankful for as conservatives. Next year brings more challenges and opportunities and we must be vigilant. Have a wonderful, happy and healthy holiday season.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his ninth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last three years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant and can be reached at (713) 621-6335.
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