A Brief Examination of a Texas House Hopeful’s Record

October 16, 2023
TFR Staff
Candidates, Property Tax, Spending, Texas House, Texas Legislature

The race to fill the vacant seat for Texas House District 2 is underway, with the special election now less than a month out. 

One candidate, Jill Dutton, has thrown her hat into the ring, hoping that Voters in HD-2 will send her down to Austin to represent them in the Legislature. 

Dutton is a resident of Van Zandt County and a former member of the Van ISD School Board. 

Dutton claims to be a principled, conservative Republican. 

But is that entirely the case?

Let’s examine, for a moment, a quote from her website: 

“Jill is a strong advocate for lowering property taxes.”

Unfortunately, Dutton’s record points to the contrary.

While on the School Board, every year between 2007 and 2016, Dutton consistently voted to raise property taxes on the taxpayers. 

In 2008, she voted to raise the School Maintenance & Operations (M&O) tax rate from $1.04 to $1.17. That’s a 12.5% increase in the tax rate in one year. 

Putting this into perspective, if you owned a house appraised at $200,000 in 2008, Dutton voted to raise your tax bill by at least $260 in one year, and that’s not factoring in the increase in your appraisal.

She then voted every year after to keep the M&O property tax (which is roughly half of a property owners tax bill each year) at the same rate, refusing to adopt a No New Revenue Rate (NNR), which means that, with rising appraisals, she consistently voted to raise your taxes. 

If Dutton was committed to lowering property taxes and fighting for the “conservative values” of the people in Van Zandt County, why did she consistently vote to effectively raise property taxes every year while she was on the school board when she had a chance to make a difference?

Let’s consider another claim from her website:

“As a [school] board member, Jill fought for our… conservative values and for the parents and students in our community.”

Does her public record back up this claim?

As a school board member, Dutton was presented with dozens of opportunities to rein in spending within Van ISD. Yet on many occasions, she did just the opposite. 

During her tenure, Dutton voted in favor of spending taxpayer money on all kinds of expenditures not directly related to student education, including brand-new Chevrolet vehicles ($63,000+), weight equipment ($98,000+), sports lighting ($65,000), a parking lot ($195,000+), and a brand-new warehouse building ($65,000+), to name a few examples. 

All in all, Dutton voted in favor of spending at least $2.5 million in taxpayer money that was not directly related to educating children in the classroom, throughout her career on the school board.  And that is on top of the millions of dollars she voted to spend each year in the district’s annual budgets. 

All this despite the crushing burden of taxes that Texans, including those in Van Zandt County, have been experiencing. Not very “conservative.”

Texans for Fiscal Responsibility (TFR) gave Dutton the opportunity to clear up some of this confusion, by sending her a candidate survey, which included questions focused on the role of government, taxation, and fiscal policy. 

She refused even to respond. 

Dutton’s record, therefore, leads TFR to believe that she would not be a taxpayer champion if elected to the Texas House and would likely be a disaster for the taxpayers of House District 2.


The special election to fill the vacant seat for House District 2 is set for Tuesday, November 7th, with early voting beginning on October 23rd. 

This is the same election that includes the Texas constitutional amendment ballot propositions, with a total of fourteen propositions.

For more information on these constitutional propositions, visit here.For more information about voting, visit the Secretary of State’s website here.

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