Texas House Ways & Means” Hears Ways to Stop Unlawful Property Taxes

Austin, Texas - Debra Medina gave a presentation of the “We Texans Proposal for the Elimination of Property Taxes” before the “Texas House Ways and Means Committee” at the Texas Capitol on Thursday 5/3/12 at 10 AM. Debra Medina, former gubernatorial candidate, spoke to about 60 supporters in the Capitol Grille and joined them in the National Day of Prayer prior to the Committee hearing. Her daughter was present and explained the process of visiting with representatives about the elimination of property taxes.

Harvey Hilderbran - Chairman Debra Medina speaking to supporters in Capitol Grille


Five out of the eleven on the Committee were present. Debra Medina was the first person to speak at the hearing to consider alternate forms of taxation and tax reform measures. The public could attend but could not be heard at this hearing. They will hold several other hearings before making their recommendations where the public will be able to speak.

Debra read a two page prepared statement that took about ten minutes and delivered the 164 page proposal to each member of the Committee. She also delivered 6,000 signed petitions calling for the abolition of property taxes that were obtained in just one week. “The property tax is broken, it is not fixable and we’d do well to be rid of it entirely. If we’re to have a prayer of achieving that prosperous economy we boast we have, we must get rid of it,” Medina said. “History has documented that ownership of property is the bedrock of every prosperous society. Man will not work for what he cannot keep. The property tax must be eliminated.” Debra added that the Texas Constitution should preserve liberty but that we are wallowing in debt with 200 billion being owed by local governments in Texas. Property tax “takes from labor what it has earned and we become squatters in our own homes,” She said.

“We must look to the productive segment of our economy, tax should not be punishment. It is the means to pay for essential government services. While we might debate the scope of those services, everyone in the society benefits from them and everyone in the society should contribute to their costs, individuals and businesses alike. And yet, the business tax in Texas is also highly flawed. Its inequities are demonstrated in the 2010 study undertaken by Richard Cunningham, Eliminating the Property Tax in Texas - A Detailed Fiscal Analysis.” This study is available on line at WeTexans.com. Medina also pointed out that there is a vast disparity between the tax burdens of different industry types.

Then Peggy Venable, Director of the Texas office of Americans For Prosperity Foundation, spoke for about 30 minutes. She said that Texas local school districts carry about $322 billion in debt and owe more in interest than in principle. She said that property tax is a tax on unrealized value not acquired until one sells their home. Peggy drew comments from the Committee, “the public education system is not efficient,” said Allen Ritter. And John Otto said that the 50 cent property tax rate ceiling reduction of 2006 was then used by school districts to market and hold a record number of bond elections. “Are you asking the state to step in and take control of public school?” Asked John Otto, “I’m for local control?” But Peggy had pointed out that there is no local control anyway as school districts hire PR consultants and attend state sponsored seminars that teach how to sell debt to the people and compare themselves to other districts with more. Venable said “Local governments and districts are controlled and created by the state.” John Otto revealed by his comment that he is unaware that public education is the sole responsibility of state government not local government under Article 7 Section 1 of the Texas Constitution and Section 42.001 (a) of the Texas Education Code.

But it was obvious that the momentum demanding the elimination of property taxation in Texas was diminished by the end of Peggy Venable’s presentation. Gary Elkins said that “maybe we should pass a Constitutional Amendment that says just because districts all charge the maximum cap rate does not mean it constitutes a state wide property tax forbidden by the Constitution.” His statement revealed his knowledge of decisions made by the Supreme Court of Texas but a lack of knowledge concerning what constitutes a state tax. He obviously had bought half of the Court’s logic and none of it is correct. Yes, Article 8 Section 1(a) says; “Taxation shall be equal and uniform.” But just because a tax is uniform does not make it a state tax. A tax becomes a state tax when the money raised is used to support a state function. Public education is a state function under Article 7 Section 1 and therefore cannot be paid for with an ad valorem property tax under Article 8 Section 1-e. In fact we should not be asking the legislature to abolish property taxes in support of public education. They are already forbidden under Article 8 Section 1-e. But other Articles in the Constitution conflict with it and the courts should resolve that but they prevent citizens from bringing suits against the state to do so. The courts only let the state sue the state so they are always arguing the wrong points and writing flawed opinions. The Courts can only address the law and questions brought to it. But the courts block suits with faulty rules of judicial precedent to prevent suits that ask the right questions (www.SueIT.org).

Gary Elkins also said that he supported the last attempt to eliminate property tax with a sales tax back in 97 and 98 but he and one or two others were defeated by 44 who opposed the Talmadge Heflin proposal, adding, “We have a long way to go.” Elkins said that Texas has the 13th highest sales tax in the nation and may well be resisted when used to offset property taxes. But Gary also said “it is insanity to have more than 1100 school districts in Texas!” He said he had tried to amend a bill to study the reduction of that number by half. “With over 240 counties in Texas and over 1100 school districts, I can’t support it any longer!” Peggy said, “government schools are not the answer,” revealing she knows nothing of the purpose of public education as opposed to private education and erroneously makes no distinction between the two.

Talmadge after hearing

Then Talmadge Heflin, Director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Center for Fiscal Policy, spoke and also called for the elimination of property taxes again and gave his ten point “Good Tax System Plan.” Then the Committee heard Don Hillman, of the State Comptroller’s Office concerning the viability of abolishing the property tax and the necessary steps to be taken. Hillman told the Committee that it would be at the discretion of the Committee and the Legislature as to what should be repealed, what services would be impacted, and how much sales tax should be added if any. He was then asked by the Committee about the effect of abolishing the property tax on the bond rating and interest rate for the state. Hillman asked if elimination of property taxes would impact only Maintenance and Operation or Interest and Sinking funds as well. He said, “The question would be, if the debt is outstanding, who is standing good for these payments?” He added that “the next question would concern the volatility of the state sales taxes during this recession, “it’s no secret that the sales tax is more volatile than the property tax in Texas.”

It is clear that the Committee was more concerned about the state’s ability to borrow more credit from bankers than the unlawful confiscation and possession of the property of the people. A property tax cannot be imposed without first confiscating the property. Secondly, it is clear that the Committee had no understanding of the real economic impact that the elimination of property tax would have on the economy of the state of Texas. If people could actually own their own property, safe from confiscation by the state, people would sell their interest in state property elsewhere and move to Texas to buy and own property. They would bring their labor to Texas where they could protect their property. None on the Committee expressed the sole purpose of government as the protection of the property of the individual. Therefore, neither did they consider that government cannot be paid for by a tax that threatens to harm or take the property of the individual without having the demise of government built-in to its means of support. The whole presentation may be seen on line by searching Texas House Ways and Means then clicking on Audio / Video, then Committee Broadcasts then the date 5/3/12 for Ways and Means.


Ron Avery is a semi-retired architect, author and speaker on topics regarding Christian theology and the principles of property that regulate every aspect of lawful government. Comment on this at taphouse@sbcglobal.net