Revenue Cap Committee’s Math:

“Worse than Meaningless”

On January 30, the Dallas Morning News ran an article written by Data and Enterprise Reporter David McSwane. The article points out the misleading arguments used by proponents of revenue caps.

Specifically, the article picked apart the often-cited “apples to oranges” claim that local property taxes have increased three times faster than median household income.  Readers of the Legislative Update know that the League has taken exception to the use of this comparison since the Senate Selection Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief was holding public hearings last year.

For his article, McSwane interviewed independent economists and fiscal analysts.  They called the committee’s comparison “fallacious” and “worse than meaningless.” The article also includes a true “apples to apples” comparison using federal data showing that median household income has actually outpaced the median property tax bill in Texas. The article is a must-read for city officials. 

In response, Senator Paul Bettencourt (R – Houston), who chaired the committee, wrote a letter to the editor of the Dallas Morning News complaining about the article. (Bettencourt is also the author of S.B. 2, this session’s revenue cap bill.)  Interestingly, Senator Bettencourt did not defend the “apples-to-oranges” comparison, but instead used property tax data from two counties to argue that property taxes are increasing across the state.

The Dallas Morning News responded with a second article, this time from its editorial board, defending its earlier article.  The board accuses Senator Bettencourt of playing “fast and loose” with the numbers, and encouraging readers to oppose S.B. 2.  City officials should continue to let their legislators know of their opposition to S.B. 2. 

TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League. 

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