During this last session, there was a major push to ban the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying that fell short. This was spearheaded by Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) and his bill SB 10. This issue was one of the Republican Party of Texas’s legislative priorities for the 87th legislative session, but as with many of the priorities, it came up short despite Republicans holding majorities in both chambers. All of this happened in spite of the fact that almost 95 percent of Republican primary voters voted in favor of a ballot proposition in 2019 in support of a ban and despite polling provided by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and WFAA that showed nine out of ten Texans also supported the ban.
The practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying is when local governments use tax dollars to hire lobbyists, that in turn go lobby for more tax dollars. It is common practice for these lobbyists to receive preferential treatment by committees and lawmakers over the citizens they represent. Texas taxpayers see this as a huge conflict of interest, using our money to go lobby for more of our money… It just seems immoral, doesn’t it? The practice is commonly used by cities and ISDs to lobby against the interest of taxpayers. Before winning governorship Greg Abbott was openly opposed to the practice. Greg Abbott, in 2013 proclaimed:
“Another practice at the Capitol that must end is using tax dollars to hire lobbyists to lobby for school districts or school boards,” Abbott told those gathered at the North East Tarrant Tea Party, the precursor to TTP, eight years ago. “Using your money to lobby for more of your money is a conflict of interest, and that practice must stop.
However, Abbott has been pretty silent on the issue in recent years. It was not part of his agenda for any of the last few legislative sessions. With top Republicans ignoring taxpayers’ demand for fiscal reforms like property tax elimination and banning taxpayer-funded lobbying will taxpayers send a message this primary?
We will see on March 1st.