Increasing Property Tax Transparency

Center for Fiscal Policy, September 20, 2018
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Testimony before the Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform by the Honorable Talmadge Heflin
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TEXAS PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION
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Chairman Bettencourt and Members of the Committee:
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My name is Talmadge Heflin, and I am the director of the Center for Fiscal Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan free market think tank based here in Austin. Thank you for inviting me to give testimony on increasing transparency of local property taxes.
Providing transparency of debt proposals. State law requires political subdivisions to provide only two items of information on the ballot for any given proposition: “the amount their local government entity proposes to borrow and a general description of
the purpose,” according to the Texas Comptroller.
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The former is inadequate because it does not properly convey the total cost of the bond issuance, while the latter often lacks specificity and is written in legalese that can be open to interpretation.

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How ‘Diversity Ideology’ Killed the University and Is Infecting America

(Photo: Erik Mcgregor/Zuma Press/Newscom)  

When we think of institutions that shape our nation’s future, many often think of Congress and the White House, but it was John Maynard Keynes, the British economist, who said that a great deal of the change we see in politics and in society at large actually starts with professors, academics, people he called “scribblers a few years back.” Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of the new book “The Diversity Delusion: How Race and Gender Pandering Corrupt the University and Undermine Our Culture”–and someone who’s been studying and writing about that very thing. This is a transcript of an interview on the Sept. 20 episode of The Daily Signal podcast. It was edited for length, style, and clarity.

Daniel Davis: Heather, a typical observer these days who maybe has been around the United States for a couple decades sees a lot of disturbing changes in recent years: new pushes for identity politics, new racial tension, battles over diversity.

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School Districts: Stop Blaming Others for Property Tax Increases

Many elected officials in Hays County have gotten into a very bad (and dishonest) habit of blaming others for property tax increases.

The most recent example of this is when I had a public Facebook conversation with a Dripping Springs ISD school board trustee about property taxes, and I brought up evidence for why I’m concerned about the local school board’s management of our money.

Currently, DSISD has more per-student debt than 98 percent of all school districts in the state, a staggering $76,000 per student. And in just the last year, the average homeowner in our district paid almost $500 more in school taxes.

In my social media conversation with the DSISD school board trustee, we discussed the skyrocketing taxes and alarming debt, but the trustee attempted to shift the focus onto the appraisal district and the state. In reality, the school board is the best opportunity we have to slow down these escalating school property taxes, because they have control over the budget, spending, and the tax rate. The tax rate is the controlling factor in the property tax equation. The property valuation isn’t.

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Who were the first six Supreme Court justices?

Constitution Daily, by NCC Staff, February 1, 2018

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It was on this day in 1790 that the United States Supreme Court opened for business. The court back then bared little resemblance to the current one, but it certainly had some interesting characters.

The original six, and not nine justices, included a Chief Justice who became the most-hated man in America for a time; a justice who didn’t want to the serve despite the Senate’s confirmation; and another justice who literally jumped into Charleston Bay when he lost his seat on the bench.

The first business of the First Congress was to establish a law setting up the Supreme Court. The framers had made provisions for the court in Article III, Section 1, of the Constitution, but it took the Judiciary Act of 1789 to make the court a reality.

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Gun Talk Saves a Hero’s Life

The American Rifleman, by Frank Miniter – Tuesday, September 11, 2018 

Greg Stube doesn’t remember what he said when, in the throes of battle—he just asked someone, anyone, on his A-Team of Green Berets to take out the Taliban fighter shooting at him from behind. But he knows that what happened next changed him forever. Later, after being grievously wounded, and as he struggled to stay conscious, and therefore alive, he does remember what he said and why it matters to him to this day. Finally, in the effort to get up from what was almost his deathbed, he learned something even more profound from a few decisive conversations.

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2019-20 LEGISLATOR’S GUIDE TO THE ISSUES

Texas Public Policy Foundation, September 14, 2018 –

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A comprehensive guide to the most important issues facing Texas during the 86th Session of the Legislature. Among the issues covered in this Guide are education, taxes and spending, health care, effective justice, private property rights, insurance, telecommunications, transportation, tort reform, energy, and natural resources.

VIEW FULL PUBLICATION

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The Armed Citizen

From The American Rifleman, by NRA Staff – Monday, September 3, 2018

The Armed Citizen® September 3, 2018

Why would a stranger break into a home and start beating a pre-teen? Perhaps the better question is what did he expect to happen afterward? A man in South Carolina discovered the answer to the second question the hard way. The boy’s father, hearing a commotion in the middle of the night, entered his son’s bedroom with a gun at the ready. The armed citizen held the intruder at gunpoint until the authorities, alerted to the break-in by a security system, arrived. The intruder appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs—which could well be an answer to the first question. (wach.com, Columbia, SC, 5/29/18)

The Armed Citizen® Extra
A woman was sitting on her front porch smoking a cigarette around 1 a.m. when two men, claiming to be from the DEA, rushed her, tried to handcuff her and held a gun to her head. The woman screamed for her mother, who was asleep upstairs with three children. When the mother came downstairs, one of the intruders pointed a gun at her too. When the two men tried to drag the younger woman out of the house, her brother, who lives next door, came to the rescue. One of the armed men shot the brother, hitting him in the neck, but the brother returned fire striking one of the intruders, killing him. The remaining attacker dragged his accomplice to the porch, then left him and ran from the scene. He is still being sought on multiple charges. The brother was taken to a hospital where he is expected to recover. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Alquippa, PA, 7/18/18)

There’s more…click here –

Vetting Kavanaugh According to the Constitution

Renewable energy subsidies are wrong for Texas

Texas Public Policy, Cutter González, 08/10/2018

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It’s 2018, and the days of warm, evening sun setting on scenic Texas plains are gone for some rural areas like Comanche County. Folks accustomed to unencumbered views will have to look elsewhere. Now, those views are pierced by the sharp teeth of a wind turbine. Summer breezes have transformed into the cyclical swooshing—and occasionally loud creaking—of nearby machinery.

Yet the summer heat remains, reminding us that Texas is facing a tight energy supply—with less reliable energy sources. Three coal plants shut down this year, pulling reserves below the desired target level to meet the energy demands of scorching August afternoons. Many things led to the closures, but the profitability of coal plants in the face of billions of dollars of subsidies for renewable energy—particularly wind—is certainly among the most powerful.

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Did Trump Really Save America From Socialism?

The American Spectator, Steve Baldwin, August 16, 2018, 12:05 am