Editorial: let’s put in place the ultimate “tax abatement”

Eric Yollick, The Golden Hammer

Montgomery County’s government is one of the most liberal County governments in Texas and possibly even the United States. For the last twenty years, they’ve grown spending at a clip five times the rate of growth of the population. Adjusting for inflation, they’ve grown spending at a rate of growth about four times the rate of growth of population.

That’s a terrible record. They’re “Republicans In Name Only.”

The Golden Hammer‘s Publisher saw a white rhino in the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania in 2014 but it certainly wasn’t as close as the view in this photograph.

As 9th District Judge Phil Grant noted when he described a conversation he had with the Denton County Auditor. “I asked if he was understaffed at his current level of funding and he said ‘no,’” Judge Grant explained. Denton County’s Auditor told Grant that the Denton County government is much leaner in structure than the Montgomery County government and doesn’t have certain functions, such as an airport, that Texas statutes don’t require. Judge Grant explained, “If your governing philosophy at the County level is to keep it lean, then the Auditor’s Office can be leaner. With the more expansive philosophy of our County Commissioners Court, then more is required of our County Auditor.” Judge Grant said, “It was an interesting conversation [with the Denton County Auditor.] He has 15 employees with 16 coming for the next fiscal year [compared to Montgomery County’s 25 in the Auditor’s Office.]”

In every way, Montgomery County taxpayers are paying a dear price for the expansive “governing philosophy” of the Montgomery County Commissioners Court. All five of them seem to hold this philosophy. The voters have elected one new member of the Commissioners Court, incoming County Judge Mark Keough, who does not seem to hold such views.

Tax abatements are a typical example of the misplaced priorities of the County government. First, they don’t work. Second, they place government in the position of having the responsibility for economic development, a responsibility that government absolutely does not have under any circumstance. Texas and the United States grew into the economic powerhouses that they are without government directing economic activity. Government is incompetent in almost everything that it does, with the exceptions of protecting us from each other (law enforcement) and from enemies at our borders (national security). Craig Doyal, Mike Meador, Jim Clark, James Noack, and Charlie Riley are about the last people on Earth I’d want directing economic activity.

But the proponents of tax abatements have a point. When you lower taxes, it does spur activity. That occurs, however, across a broad community. That was the whole point of President Ronald Reagan’s brilliant tax cuts which created the economic boom of the 1990s. (Tax cuts tend to have an economic impact which lags about six years on a macroeconomic scale.)

This newspaper – and the activities of the Publisher – remain focused on reducing County government spending by $100 million with offsetting increases in law enforcement and a road and bridge capital fund totaling $40 million, for net savings of $60 million.

Montgomery County’s vitalized Republican Party was the shining beacon on the hill nationwide during the November 6 General Election by record voter turnout and delivering the conservative votes to put Senator Ted Cruz and other statewide candidates over the top to win their elections. Locally, Republican candidates swept into office without serious challenges from democrats who had little message other than trying to fool voters into believing they were “fiscal conservatives” who nevertheless supported the expansive philosophy of the Texas Democratic Party Platform.

Over the next two years, Montgomery County citizens need to work very hard to ensure that the Commissioners Court has gotten the message that we expect them to reduce County government spending – and spending by all local taxing entities – sharply lower.

The proponents of tax abatements, also known as “special interests,” argue that they bring jobs and economic development by lowering taxes. Just imagine if, instead, the County government provided the ultimate tax abatement, a 20% across-the-board reduction in the County property tax rate to show leadership to other taxing entities, such as the Conroe ISD where spending is also exploding out-of-control.

Let’s bring about the ultimate tax abatement, which will make Montgomery County a much more desirable place to own a home or a business. Let’s bring about the ultimate tax abatement, which will make it clear that Montgomery County is the best place to live, work, and play.

The voters need to lead their elected servants to lower government spending so that these tax reductions may abate our Countywide misery. Outside of law enforcement, our County government is regularly incompetent. Let’s keep as much money of our money as possible out of their hands.

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