Conroe, March 26 – In an amazing example of how fiscally liberal government officials in Montgomery County, playing under the guise of “conservative beliefs,” can be, the Conroe City Council, on Thursday, March 23, 2017 voted unanimously to oppose Texas Senate Bill 2, which passed the Texas Senate on an 18 to 12 vote on Tuesday of last week. The unanimous vote was even more troubling, because Conroe Mayor Toby Powell and the City Council members expressed the view that the Legislature must reject Senate Bill 2 which would limit the City from “providing services.” The Bill would do nothing of the sort.
In 1996, United States Senator Phil Gramm (R-Texas), a doctorate-holding economist, explained carefully in a speech at Texas A&M University that the United States faces fiscal collapse by approximately 2030, if federal, state, and local governments do not begin to make substantial reductions in government spending. Total taxation is massive. In Montgomery County, the County government has increased spending 428% since 2000 while population growth has only been 84%.
Apparently, the Conroe City Council wants the taxpayers money far too badly to consider even the most timid of property tax relief measures, which is what Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston)’s Senate Bill 2 actually is. The legislation would limit government tax rate growth to 4% per year unless the people within that jurisdiction vote to approve the higher rate. The proposed legislation also contains some appraisal district reform by moving appraisal districts towards boards of directors which the citizens would elect. In a February 20, 2017, news conference in Houston, Montgomery County Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack joined Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Senator Bettencourt, and Senator Brandon Creighton (R-The Woodlands) to call for passage of Senate Bill 2 and other broad property tax relief. Noack explained to The Golden Hammer that Senate Bill 2 is a beginning measure for “meaningful property tax relief.”
The great local “sage,” Bill O’Sullivan, local political activist and Treasurer of the Texas Tea Party Patriots PAC, has noted that the only true form of long-term tax relief will come when government spending reductions actually begin to occur. Meanwhile, Montgomery County Judge Craig Doyal has made clear that he supports increased County government spending and believes that somehow is a form of “fiscal conservatism.”
In the Conroe City Council vote, the most disturbing position of any person was that of Duane Ham, the newest member of the Council. Ham is the Chairman of the Texas Conservative Tea Party Coalition and claims that he is a “conservative.” Nevertheless, Ham joined the City Council in passing the resolution opposing Senate Bill 2.
The Golden Hammer caught up with Councilman Ham over the weekend and asked him how and why he would oppose Senate Bill 2 and its provisions that provide some, albeit not enough, property tax relief to Texas citizens. Ham admitted that “if I had to do it over it over again, I’d reconsider and probably vote differently. I am totally for property tax reform. My only rub is that I think SB 2 is a only token and not enough in the right direction. What I’d like to have seen is something much more aggressive.”
Ham argued that “school taxes eat everybody up. I want to tackle school taxes. We need property tax reform but we also need major school finance reform.” He also said, “You have to be 80 years old before the State of Texas wipes out your property taxes and that’s disgusting. You’ve got to be 65 before your home appraisals are frozen. We should move towards a consumption tax, which would work very easily, in the State of Texas.”
Ham contends that SB 2 will only give the average citizen a $120 per year tax break, so he voted against it. “It’s not enough of a tax break. People need tax reform. I thought the resolution was a bad and stupid move. Our efforts need to be more on leaning against spending. But I don’t like the SB 2 bill as it’s written.”
Sorry, Mr. Ham, you supported more government spending and higher taxation in your vote. The Golden Hammer appreciates your recognition of your error.