It has been two decades since the Republicans seized control of the state government in Texas. Currently, there are no Democrats holding a statewide elected office (and haven't been for more than 18 years). The Republicans took control by promising not to raise taxes, and they have kept power by repeating that promise in every election since then. Have they kept that promise?
Not really. We know that they have raised all sorts of fees -- on everything from driver's licenses to hunting and fishing licenses. They have a certain kind of myopia that allows them to think fees are not taxes. That's ridiculous, of course, since anytime the government takes money from a citizen it is a tax -- whether they want to call it that or not.
But there is another way they have raised taxes on Texas citizens that most people don't realize. By refusing to raise taxes at the state level, and by cutting state services and the money the state provides to cities and counties for things such as public education (the state GOP leaders chopped $5 billion out of education funding in the last legislative session), they have forced counties and cities to raise taxes to make up for it.
And those raises have been huge. State Comptroller Susan Combs recently released figures showing that property taxes have been raised about 188% in the two decades since Republicans came to power. This is because of property taxes being raised and new taxing districts being created (that also get funding from property taxes). And most of this huge rise in property taxes has been because the state GOP leaders were more interested in playing politics that funding services for citizens.
Have the state Republican leaders kept their promises to not raise taxes. No. They have just hidden their failure by shifting the tax burden from the state level to the local level. But for citizens, does it matter whether the tax raise is a state one or a local one? No. It is still a tax raise, and that is all that matters.
There are some services that must be performed by government, and if the state refuses to do it, it must be done on the local level. A 188% rise in property taxes is a huge tax raise, and the blame for most of it rests with the state Republican leaders. They have failed to keep their promise, and they have done it in a very sneaky way.
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