Other Voices

Voters, not lawmakers, should decide when to cap local taxes

State Sens. Paul Bettencourt, left, of Houston and Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, along with  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have pushed tax cut talk in the Senate.
State Sens. Paul Bettencourt, left, of Houston and Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, along with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have pushed tax cut talk in the Senate. AP

The Texas Miracle is no miracle at all.

Instead, it is the result of a well-thought-out plan for local governments that has worked for decades. Based on this collaborative relationship, Texas cities have partnered with our lawmakers in Austin to pass legislation for the betterment of our cities.

But right now there is a misguided effort in Austin on the part of some legislators to restrict the ability of cities to do the work required to serve their residents.

State lawmakers are considering legislation that, among other things, would put arbitrary fiscal restraints on our cities and counties.

The term is a revenue cap. The stated goal is to hold down property taxes.

We already have a system for that. It is called elections. As mayors, we are totally accountable to you, the voters of Fort Worth and Dallas. We listen.

The political motivation in Austin for this legislative overreach is the desire for lower property taxes. We understand that concern, as we are homeowners too. Like you, we pay property taxes.

One of our goals as mayors must be to provide you the services you want while keeping your taxes down. At the same time, it is our responsibility to continue to focus on economic development that creates jobs in our communities and builds a stronger commercial tax base to help offset the burden on homeowners.

Without local control, we will be challenged to fulfill those goals. ; jrp has read

The people of Fort Worth and Dallas have spoken by voting time and time again and we hear you — you want good schools. Unfortunately, state funding for schools is inadequate and, as a result, we fund schools through our local property taxes.

Schools represent more than 50 percent of the property tax burden statewide, while city and county governments represent a much smaller part of the property tax bill.

How we fund our schools is not so much a local decision as it is a state decision. We’ve shouldered the burden locally because it’s the right thing to do.

Our local governments should not be penalized for sharing that responsibility. One of the defining factors for the future of Texas’ success must be our educational system.

The folks of Fort Worth and Dallas let us know at every election and every council meeting if we are taking care of their business properly.

We share the same ZIP codes and city services as you. So continue to tell us your needs in your city.

Please let your legislators know that you want local decisions made locally and that artificial restraints imposed by the Legislature is not the way to make that happen.

Change the system and you will see the Texas Miracle slowly slip away from us. Our children and grandchildren will be the ones to feel the loss.

We must continue this partnership of our tried-and-tested and voter-backed plan for local governing. Protect local control.

Betsy Price is mayor of Fort Worth. Mike Rawlings is mayor of Dallas.