FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 06/02/2017
Chairman James White Urges Governor Abbott to Call Special Session on Vital Government Functions
(Austin, TX) - State Representative James White is asking Governor Greg Abbott to consider bringing the State Legislature back for a First Called Special Session addressing property tax relief, school finance reform, cuts in child therapy rates, and rural county roads impacted by oil and gas production.
“I am proud of the work that my colleagues have accomplished this session, which includes reforming of our foster care system, strengthening our mental health system, and ensuring the public safety of Texans by ending sanctuary cities,” said Rep. White. He added, “Ultimately, I respect our Texas Constitution and the powers this governing document gives exclusively to the Governor. If he is indeed considering a special session due to legislative actions or inactions, I am asking that he consider placing property tax relief, school finance reform, cuts in child therapy rates, and rural county roads impacted by oil and gas production.”
Property taxes are collected and spent locally by local governing entities. However, it is the state property tax code and unfunded mandates that drive the escalating tax burden on Texans. Rep. White said, “This is why we need conservative commonsense property tax relief that respects our God-given property rights and ensures that our local governments have the fiscal resources to maintain public safety and provide other core government functions.”
Associated with property tax relief, Rep. White has asked the Governor to demand what the Texas Constitution mandates and Texas parents and students deserve: a 21st century school finance system. Over the past year, we have heard of this neglected broken system and have seen it bleed into property tax increases. Rep. White added, “We saw a piece of legislation filed by the chairman of the House Public Education committee that, although not perfect, would have been a great first step at addressing the problem. I was supportive of this legislation and will be looking to see another attempt be made in a special session.”
Last year, the Legislature imposed severe cuts to therapy services for two-, three-, and four-year old children with serious developmental challenges. The Texas House made it a priority to restore and at least maintain the funding levels. However, House budget negotiators were only able to partially restore the cuts. “This is absolutely unacceptable. This is about gaining the motor skills to chew food for adequate digestion. As a former school teacher, these therapy services mitigate costs and poor outcomes when these kids once they arrive at their local public school system,” said Rep. White.
Texas is a blessed state with bountiful oil and gas resources. This production has resulted in employment and the largest fund reserve (Economic Stabilization Fund) among the 50 states. “Over the next several months, we will have a lot of faux fiscal conservatives campaigning about how the ESF will be at a record $11 billion before next session. But the fact is, most of this energy production heavily impacts rural Texas county roads,” said Rep White. The Texas energy sector is on the ascendency, which means that rural roads will experience damage. During the regular session, State Rep. White authored and filed HB 4231 that would set aside a measly 2 cents on every dollar of the oil and gas severance tax for county roads and bridges impacted by energy production. State Rep. White said, “HB 4231 was on the calendar in enough time for consideration, but it got caught up in the legislative fratricide. For the life of me, why wouldn't we want to facilitate energy production?”
“I receive calls from ‘salt of the earth’ Texans who are absolutely frightened that they will not maintain their homesteads or even have monies to pay their church tithes because of escalating property taxes due to appraisal creep or school finance, to name a couple,” stated Rep. White. “As Chair of the House Committee on Corrections, I am concerned that without meaningful reform of our school finance system and thoughtfully responding to child therapy rate cuts we are creating a situation that will lead to more incarceration, more Texans on government programs, and a lower level of economic prosperity,” said White.
“I am hopeful, that, if Governor Abbott makes a call for a special session, the Texas State Legislature will step up to the plate to address these reforms that Texans are demanding,” Rep. White concluded.
Please do not hesitate to contact either Saul Mendoza, Chief of Staff, or Shawn Dunn, District Director, with questions at 512-463-0490 or 409-283-3700.