In the past year, conservatives have seen a lot of political activism in reaction to the Biden administration’s failures. We have also seen backlash from social norms moving away from traditional values. For instance, we have seen conservatives become politically active due to bad COVID policies involving masking kids and lockdowns in schools. We saw the FBI declare that parents that come to school board meetings are domestic terrorists. This only galvanized conservatives in their activism. Recently, the disturbing phenomenon of transgender drag shows has caused social conservatives to protest the grooming of children and advocate for policy change that would prevent people from abusing children.
But what about fiscal conservatism?
Where are the fiscally conservative activists?
When the Federal Reserve decided to increase our money supply by 40% in two short years, where was the outcry? What about in Texas? For decades, polls have continuously shown that property taxes are a top priority for conservatives. However, despite lawmakers championing a 2019 property tax relief bill, no one has received any tax relief. All we received was more “slow the growth” strategy along with some reasonable reforms (decreasing the rate raise trigger from 8% to 3.5%). Our state budget is on track to triple in the last 20 years, despite our population only growing 40% during that same time. We continue to watch as our lawmakers support corporate welfare with corrupt programs like Chapter 313 tax abatements, the Texas Enterprise Fund, and many other subsidies—yet there is no outcry.
When cities deceptively promote tax rate drops, which will actually result in higher taxes because of their refusal to lower to at least the no-new-revenue rate, we give little to no pushback. Most Texans I meet when I am speaking at various events around the state have not even heard of the no-new-revenue rate, much less have they shown up to a city council or commissioners court meeting to demand an end to the lies from their local tax authorities. In the recently adopted Republican Party platform, delegates to their state convention chose not to adopt a clear-cut priority on tax reform or fiscal matters at all (though abolishing property taxes was very close). It seems that conservatives are fired up about everything but fiscal policy.
This is somewhat understandable. I spend the vast majority of my time focused on fiscal policy now, and I will be honest, it is boring to talk about in most cases. Most days, I would much rather talk about sexy political issues like guns or being pro-life, but I spend time on fiscal policy because, despite its dry nature, I believe nothing will impact Texans more than genuine fiscal policy reform. Nothing can destroy a society quicker than bad monetary policy and loose fiscal spending by a greedy government. It is time that conservatives start engaging our Texas government and demanding sane fiscal policy and responsible governance. It is time that taxpayers show up to meetings for their school boards, commissioners courts, and city councils and demand they at least adopt the no-new-revenue rate. It is time that conservatives engage in the budgetary process and hold lawmakers accountable to the promises they make on the campaign trail, where they allege they support small government and fiscally responsible policies.
The key to changing public policy in any area is an engaged citizenry willing to apply pressure to demand it. If we do not start demanding actual results on things like property tax relief, our lawmakers are going to spend us into oblivion. We will see the elderly, many of whom are on fixed incomes, being forced out of their homes so the government can continue to pump billions into a failing public school system. (In fact, we are already seeing this.)
It is time conservatives wake up and start remembering why this country had a revolution in the first place: it was over taxation (without representation). Most people would be surprised if I told them the tax rate our Founding Fathers fought a war over … about 3%.
How far do to think we are from that number today?
Honestly, King George’s tax rate sounds a lot more reasonable than the one I am paying. He would be considered a fiscal conservative today.
Texas voters need education. Our financial systems are incredibly confusing, and our lawmakers do everything they can to conceal their votes on fiscal issues and avoid accountability. Fortunately, this is why Texans for Fiscal Responsibility exists. We exist to educate taxpayers and to train and motivate them to engage their government effectively. Join us in holding lawmakers accountable!
So, what can you do to get involved?
The next legislative session is set to begin in January of 2023. Your elected officials need to hear from you.
Go read the Texas Prosperity Plan for yourself and voice your support for REAL property tax relief by signing up to support the TPP. You can also sign up for The Fiscal Note to stay updated on all fiscal issues that affect Texans, especially our broken property tax system. We CAN get real tax relief if we amplify our voices loudly enough.