This week, you likely drove on local roads, maybe dropped your child off at a public school, and passed a hospital, fire station, police department, and library somewhere along the way. Chances are you didn’t stop to think about how all these things are possible because of public investments that make our communities stronger—yet when you got your property tax bill this month, you might have felt like grumbling.
Those thousands of dollars can add up quickly. They put a real pinch on most families. While we love our communities, paying for them this way can feel like a strain. During those weak moments, when we are loving our neighborhoods but hating pulling out our checkbooks, we are particularly vulnerable to messages about cutting taxes, aren’t we?
What’s important to know, particularly when you hear talk of cutting taxes at the state level, is that most of the taxes proposed for cuts aren’t ones you pay. Often, when Texas state leaders push for “cutting taxes,” it leads to two things, neither of them good for families:
- reductions in services we count on, like public schools and children’s hospitals;
- a hike in property taxes.
You read that right. Rising property taxes happen in part because Texas, one of only a handful of states without an income tax, likes to pass the buck on funding local community services. When the state cuts taxes, often for one special interest group or another, we have less revenue for our state budget, which helps fund things like schools and hospitals. That results in fewer state dollars to offset our local costs—leaving local school districts, health districts, and cities to foot more of the bill with property taxes, just to maintain quality of life in their community. It’s a losing scenario.
So this month as you stare down that big check, take solace in the fact that you are helping fund many of the things that you rely on and love in your community, but also consider giving your legislators a call. Ask them to make sure Texas’s big businesses pay their fair share and invest in our communities, too.
Are there issues like this affecting your family you’d like to have explained? Let the Mommy Mob crew know. We’ll investigate the answers, and boil down what we learn.
Written by: Eileen Garcia, chief executive officer of Texans Care for Children.