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Politics

State Comptroller Targets Local Taxing Jurisdictions

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In a sneak peek of the pending clash between state and local governments to come during the next legislative session, Texas State Comptroller Susan Combs is urging people to challenge local taxing authorities over levies that she says are rising faster than inflation.  

Combs' office issued a report today titled "Your Money and The Taxing Facts."  Texans are encouraged to "get involved" by "attending hearings and meetings of entities that affect you."

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Speaking with KUT News today, Combs questions whether or not most Texans really want all the local services for which they're paying: "Certainly cities and counties they do, but some of these other ones, there’s this whole array of new special purpose property and sales tax districts, and there’s been a huge surge in those."

A survey of special taxing districts in Travis, Williamson, and Hays counties shows that virtually all of them fund schools, emergency services, and water and sewer projects--vital community services. Some of the cuts enacted during the 2011 legislative session were passed down to local taxing entities

Many of the costs incurred by local taxing authorities would be handled by the state government in most other states, says Jim Henson of the Texas Politics Project.   Because Texas has no state income tax, revenue must be raised locally.

Henson says Combs's report could be a preview of source of conflict in the next state legislative session, that starts in January:  "When the legislature comes into town, there's always a lot of friction between what state government is doing and how much gets passed on to the local authorities.   This will be another battle in that ongoing fight."