Governor Greg Abbott Uses Inauguration Speech to Attack Property Taxes
Texas Governor Greg Abbott gives Inaugural Address
Abbott Warns of Dangers of High Property Taxes in Inaugural Address
Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned of the dangers of skyrocketing property taxes Tuesday, January 15 during his inaugural address on the steps of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. Under an overcast sky the governor warned that out of control property taxes can destroy the dreams of many Texans.
An excited crowd cheered as Abbott said, "And taxpayers should be given the power to fire their property tax assessor." Several members of the Texas House and Senate were present as the governor declared, "This session, we must finally rein in skyrocketing property taxes." Hopefully the elected politicians were listening to his powerful words.
The second term governor further said, "Some people say we can't afford property tax reform. I say we can't afford not to reform a system that punishes homeowners, crushes businesses, and cripples our schools."
Making a dramatic reference to Austin he said, "Just a few blocks from here you see cranes operating above sprouting skyscrapers. In the shadow of those giant cranes, businesses are shuttering, unable to keep up with skyrocketing property taxes. That is now what Texas is about."
Later in his eloquent speech, he pointed to Waco as an example of property tax abuse, saying, "As one woman from Waco recently told me: 'Governor,something has to be done. Some homeowners here in the poorest areas had their tax rates doubled by the appraisal district. How is that honest or fair? It's not."
Abbott Expresses Sympathy for Plight of those Evicted from Homes
Abbott expressed sympathy for Texans evicted from their homes because of unreasonable property taxes. The leader said, "Go a few blocks further and you'll find residents forced out of their homes. Victims of unaffordable housing. A byproduct of those same skyrocketing property taxes. That is not what Texas is about. "
He continued, saying, "Texas is a place of hope and opportunity where anyone can achieve their dreams if they're willing to put in the work. But the promise that Texas offers is threatened by out of control property taxes."
The crowd applauded loudly before Abbott continued, saying, "As you know, the property tax burden is not unique to Austin. I've talked to Texans from Amarillo to Laredo, Texans in suburbs and inner cities, and they all demand property tax relief."
Governor Empathizes With Senior Citizens
Abbott, who is a native of Wichita Falls, Texas, empathized with the fate of many senior citizens who suffer from unreasonable property taxes. Abbott said, "A state as prosperous as Texas should not punish seniors who have worked their entire lives to retire in a home they have already paid off. And it shouldn't force middle and low income Texans out of their neighborhoods.
What does Abbott see as the solution?
The governor said, "To fix this, Texas must limit the ability of taxing authorities to raise their property taxes. At the same time, Texas must end unfunded mandates on cities and counties. And taxpayers should be given the power to fire their property tax appraiser."
Governor Inspires Crowd With Dramatic Examples
The popular governor then inspired the friendly crowd gathered on the capital lawn with a series of stories. He said, "We live in a state where the grandson of a slave who was sold on the courthouse steps in Waco rose up to be Chief Justice of our highest court."
"A state where a little girl shuffled from foster home to foster home drew strength from her grandparents in Houston. She went on to become the first America woman gymnast to win four Gold Medals in a single Olympics.
"And yes, we live in a state where a young man can have his back broken in half and still rise up and be Governor of this great Sate."
This last statement was greeted with enthusiastic applause by the large crowd. Abbott was referring to himself. In one of the most comebacks in American political history, he came back to be a lawyer, judge, attorney general and governor after a huge tree fell on him while he was jogging. He'd been studying for his Texas bar exams when his back was broken by this freak accident.
He hovered between life and death as doctors fought to save his life. Largely because of his own resilience he survived, though he was told by doctors he'd never walk again. Most people would quit, but he responded to this adversity with determination.
George Strait Entertains Crowd At Inaugural Ball
Country music legend George Strait performed at the Governor's Ball later Tuesday evening at another location in Austin. Abbott introduced Strait as the musician who has sold more platinum records than anyone other than the Beatles and Elvis Presley. Abbott also praised Strait for his performances to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Harvey ripped the Texas coastline,leaving many homeless.
Abbott joked he almost didn't run in Texas because "all my exes live in Texas." It was a reference to one of Strait's classic hits entitled, "All My Exes Live In Texas."
Abbott Pledges Teacher Pay Raise
During his speech, Abbott also referred to a need for more support to help the Texas education system. He further said, "But from that perch, it is clear that too many young Texans have difficulty on their own journey to prosperity. Holding them back is an education system that's not adequate to put our students on the path to excellence that they deserve."
"Yes, we are graduating more students from high school than ever before. At the same time, more students are graduating unprepared for college or a career."
"Our students deserve better. Our teachers deserve better. Our taxpayers deserve better."
He further added, "Students from the most challenging circumstances can perform at the highest levels. But we have to give them the opportunity to succeed."
He directed more comments at the legislators in the audience Tuesday, saying, "This session, we must reward teachers and school districts that achieve results. We must act to pay our best teachers more."
He quoted from the Texas song, "The eyes of Texas are upon us. We have the opportunity and the obligation to get this right. We can and we will better fund education>'
Abbott Challenges Texas Legislature
In his powerful speech, Governor Abbott clearly challenged Texas legislators to rein in an out of control property tax system and to improve the Lone Star education system. The governor has made his position clear. He's done all he can. The question is, when will that legislature do anything? The time is now within the next six months while they are in session. Voters should check back in six months and hold their senators and representatives accountable. If they have done nothing to advance the governor's plan to advance his education and property tax agendas they should be held accountable. Texas should fail neither future generations nor senior citizens.
The country is tired of politicians who make promises they don't keep. Only time will tell as to the Texas Legislature. Governor has kept his promises as outlined in his inauguration speech yesterday.
Legislature's Early Response to Governor Abbott Challenge
The Legislature responded quickly this week by releasing a House budget blueprint to add $7 billion for public education as long as lawmakers may also limit property tax growth. Lt.Gov. Dan Patrick said at his inauguration Tuesday the Senate would provide $3.7 billion more to public schools.
Patrick agreed with Abbott that teachers deserve a $5,000 a year pay raise. Patrick added, "We're putting teachers first."
Abbott and Patrick appear to be united, which is a good sign for the governor's proposals. They will need the help of newly-elected House Speaker Dennis Bonnen. If Bonnen isn't on board, it would be more difficult for the governor's much-needed reforms to pass. Bonnnen is a major player to watch in the upcoming session.