With only a month before the November general election, we surveyed subscribers of our weekly email, The Fiscal Note, about the issues they consider most likely to impact their decisions at the ballot box.
The question posed to subscribers of The Fiscal Note was as follows:
“Which of the following issues do you consider to be your top concern going into the November 2022 election?”
They were given the following options: property taxes, border security, inflation, education, election integrity, and abortion.
After hundreds of responses, the top two issues weighing on taxpayers’ minds include border security, which garnered 33 percent, and property taxes, getting nearly 28 percent.
(Full Results: Border Security – 33.26%, Property Taxes – 27.53%, Election Integrity – 20.70%, Inflation – 11.23%, Abortion – 4.19%, and Education – 3.08%)
Though the issue of border security has always been a proverbial political football, it has made major headlines in the last few months, as the Biden administration has seemed reluctant to address the sheer number of individuals caught crossing the U.S.- Mexico border illegally.
Moreover, for months it was reported that the administration was complicit in putting these individuals on planes in the middle of the night and transporting them further into the country.
In an attempt to allegedly address the issue, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Operation Lone Star in 2021 and has spent more than $4 billion on state efforts to secure the Texas-Mexico border (to varying degrees of purported success), leading many to ask whether the juice has been worth the squeeze.
Within those efforts, Abbott also began a campaign of busing individuals caught crossing the Texas-Mexico border illegally to various cities across the United States. The individuals have to volunteer to be transported, and thus far those efforts have not been seen to bear any fruit other than transporting them further into the country at the expense of Texas taxpayers and obtaining convenient headlines for a governor in the midst of a re-election effort.
Meanwhile, Texans grow increasingly concerned about the lack of security at the border and what it might mean for their communities.
The property tax burden on taxpayers in Texas only continues to grow, despite promises from elected officials at both the state and local levels over the last two decades.
In 2019, the Texas Legislature passed legislation attempting to reform the process by which property taxes are levied by local governments in Texas. Since then, those same lawmakers have promised that these local government jurisdictions would lower their property tax rates to a new metric known as the no-new-revenue tax rate, or they would have to face voters if the proposed increased tax rate is beyond a certain threshold.
Multiple loopholes have been found and exploited by these local jurisdictions, however, and property tax bills look as if they will collectively not go down at all, though the growth will be stifled in some parts of the state.
Several Texans, especially the elderly and those on fixed incomes, are looking at the very real possibility of being priced out of their homes, unable to pay the outrageous property tax burdens.
Polling suggests that Texas taxpayers are reeling for true property tax relief. Texas lawmakers will be looking at nearly $27 billion in surplus (i.e. an over-collection of tax dollars) next legislative session. This has prompted Abbott to float using at least half of that surplus to buy down the school maintenance and operations (M&O) portion of the property tax to provide actual relief to taxpayers. Whether the Legislature follows suit, while also trying to appropriate additional money for other pet projects, remains unclear.
What Is Next?
Election Day is Tuesday, November 8. Shortly thereafter, state lawmakers have the ability to pre-file legislation in preparation for the next legislative session, which is set to begin in January of 2023.
If any of the issues above concern you as well, your state lawmakers need to hear from you. You can subscribe to The Fiscal Note and stay up to date on all fiscal issues that affect Texans. We CAN put Texas on a path to fiscal sanity and future prosperity if we amplify our voices loudly enough.