June 15, 2017
“Unless property tax relief, franchise tax relief and the union dues issue are brought back up in a special called session by Gov. Abbott, you’ll have to wait two more years to see the tax relief you asked for, and you can sit back and watch the government collect millions more for labor unions while you try to keep your business open.” This is a direct quote from the Spilman Report two weeks ago. Was it a premonition, a wish, or does the Governor pay attention? Deeming it the latter, I’m happy to report that the Governor listened and added the “union dues” issue and property tax reform to the call in the upcoming special legislation session—85(1)—this July 18.
Simply put, state and local government in Texas collects membership dues for national labor unions from public employee paychecks. Generally, membership dues are the primary source of funding for organizations, associations, and unions, and the collection of those dues are the sole responsibility of the group wishing to retain membership and continue its advocacy functions. In this case, however, Texas government is collecting these dues for labor unions. This is a de facto endorsement of their political agenda and policies, and a direct conflict of interest because not all taxpayers endorse the labor union agenda, which reflects a very anti-business sentiment. A bill will be filed on July 18 to address this issue and will look much like SB 13 from the 85th regular session, by Chairwoman Joan Huffman. We will need all hands on deck, so watch for call-to-action member alerts in your inbox.
No question about it, all Texans want property tax relief and reform. So, why didn’t the major property tax bill, SB 2, from the regular session pass, forcing the Governor to add it to the call in a special session? Well, the same cities that are using taxpayer dollars to collect membership dues for unions, have complained that if we reduce property taxes again, there will be no money to fund city improvements or infrastructure. Doubling down, lobbyists representing cities brought hundreds of police and fire fighters to the Capitol, telling legislators that if we reduce property tax, cities won’t be able to pay these local heroes. The men and women protecting our safety should be the first to be funded, and cities should subsequently budget around that. Nonetheless, their tactics worked and SB 2 failed to pass. Here’s the kicker cities—if you tax your citizens and businesses out of town, you won’t have money for your improvements, infrastructure or police and fire, so let’s work out a deal here. And, that’s what we hope will be done during the special session. NFIB will be at the table voicing the priorities of small business during the ‘deal-making’ process.
For a full re-cap of the legislative session, check your mailbox for the NFIB/Texas Mid-Year Report in September. We will also have an in-depth breakdown online. The “bulldog edition” of the Spilman Report will follow adjournment of the 85(1) special legislation session.