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Conservative Texas Think Tank Looks to Influence Local Policy

After influencing state policy at the Capitol, the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) – a non-profit conservative think tank – is now turning its attention to local municipal governments.

TPPF officials say its new Center for Local Governance will work on the local level to tackle issues including spending, funding, local control and government transparency.

“I want to get in front of as many audiences as humanly possible, and begin to promote conservatism at the local level,” says director James Quintero. He explained that the catalyst for this new center was a study of local government finance. He argues that debt in local government is growing at an uncontrollable rate.

“In fiscal 2011, local governments had accumulated $193 billion worth of debt,” Quintero said. “Now, to compare that to the state level, the state government, as a whole, only carries about $40 billion dollars worth of debt. So, it’s about a five to one ratio.”

Center employees intend to travel the state and educate Texans about state and local government issues. Quintero says the center aims to identify problems within local governments and work with public officials and residents to solve these issues. 

The center’s prescriptions will undoubtedly face an uphill climb in solidly Democratic cities like Austin and San Antonio. But Quintero says “there are some issues that stretch across boundaries,” like government transparency.  

In the audio player above, listen to Quintero describe the Center’s goals.

Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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