Unfunded Mandates

It’s no secret that Texas has relied on property taxpayers to pay for more and more over the years, but it’s not just the responsibility for funding schools that has been pushed down to local property owners.

The Legislature regularly requires that counties enact expensive new policies and programs, known as unfunded mandates, expecting local property taxpayers to pick up the tab. For example, Texas property taxpayers paid more than $265 million for court-appointed criminal lawyers in 2017 with minimal reimbursement from the state, and it will likely cost property taxpayers millions more in 2018.


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Key Points

  • Texas counties and local property taxpayers face billions of dollars-worth of unfunded mandates from both the state and federal governments.
  • Unfunded mandates drive up property tax bills by increasing the size and cost of county government.
  • Unfunded mandates remove accountability from state government spending.

Related Articles

The truth about property taxes in Texas

The Alvin Sun, Feb. 26, 2019

 

Earlier this month, I testified in Austin about our property taxes with state legislators. Let me assure you that Chicken Little is alive and well in the halls of our state capitol. They have convinced most everyone that Texas is one of the most taxed states...

State must find way to lessen burden on counties

Athens Daily Review, Feb. 15, 2019

 

Political subdivisions around Texas are forced by state lawmakers to take on unfunded mandates every season, and we don't think that's going to change soon...

Henderson County officials take aim at unfunded mandates

Athens Daily Review, Feb. 13, 2019

 

Pointing out unfunded mandates in the Henderson County budget, commissioners approved on Tuesday a resolution opposing state government programs that require spending money to pay for them..

Wichita County officials seek amendment to state constitution restricting unfunded mandates

Times Record News, Feb. 11, 2019

 

The state of Texas and its counties will have to change the way they do business, said Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom, to ensure the best future for Texans...

Commissioners court opposes unfunded mandates

Elgin Courier, Feb. 5, 2019

 

The Bastrop County Commissioners Court passed a resolution last Monday opposing unfunded mandates from the State of Texas and urging the Texas Legislature to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting the state government from forcing counties to participate...

Bastrop County joins fight against unfunded mandates

Statesman, Feb. 1, 2019

 

Bastrop County has joined dozens of counties across the state in locking arms to protest the state Legislature and its propensity for forcing counties to implement laws and programs it creates without providing funding to carry them out...

Victoria county issues resolution in opposition of unfunded mandates

Crossroads Today, Jan. 28, 2019

 

The Victoria County Commissioners have approved of unfunded mandates to voice their opposition of unfunded mandates to Texas State legislators...

Victoria County to lawmakers: Don't create new programs without cash to pay for them

Victoria Advocate, Jan. 27, 2019

 

Some Victoria County officials want to make it clear: They don’t want state lawmakers to create more programs for counties to manage without finding a way to pay for them first...

Legislators, want to cut property taxes? Stop requiring counties to pay for more services

Dallas News, Jan. 26, 2019

 

The Texas Legislature is determined to make property tax reform a top priority. As the Cooke County judge, I am elected by county residents to help set the tax rate for our county government, and I agree that our tax system needs reform. It's the means to achieving that goal pushed by many of our legislators that concerns me...

Analysis: Unfunded state mandates have a new enemy — the governor of Texas

The Texas Tribune, Jan. 22, 2019

 

Gov. Greg Abbott and his partners in office want to impose limits on the size of local property tax increases, and the governor has added a twist those local governments might like: He has targeted unfunded state mandates....

Commissioners seek indigent defense grant

Athens Daily Review, Nov. 21, 2018

 

Henderson County officials are once again applying for an indigent defense grant to offset part of what the county spends for defendants who can't afford to hire their own attorneys...

Texas projects state funding for schools to drop as local revenue grows

Texas Tribune, Sept. 18, 2018

 

In a preliminary budget request, the Texas Education Agency revealed it expects the state to put less money into public education next year because of fast-increasing local property values...

Tom Green County owed $18.5M for indigent defense attorneys

Go San Angelo, May 22, 2018

According to Tom Green County Commissioner Ralph Hoelscher, the State of Texas is seriously in arrears when it comes to reimbursing counties for indigent defense attorneys, and that could make it difficult for county officials to balance the budget in the future...

Undermining local control is not conservative

LMTOnline, Feb. 25, 2018

I ran for Tarrant County Judge in 2006 on a platform of traditional conservative principles: local control, public safety and more personal freedom...

Shutting down unfunded mandates — the state's no-limit credit card

Trib Talk - Perspectives on Texas, July 21, 2017

As a conservative Republican county judge in a growing county, I'm concerned by Sen. Paul Bettencourt's property tax plan, Senate Bill 1...

State imposes unfunded mandates while preaching tax relief

San Antonio Express-News, April 11, 2017

The revenue cap debate has been marred by misinformation. For many years, state legislators have decried excessive spending by local governments while simultaneously requiring local leaders to pick up the tab for unfunded state mandates.

Tax relief coming at expense of local governments

mySA, March 27, 2017

As state lawmakers are debating measures to give Texans tax relief by lowering the trigger for property tax rollback elections and setting limits on appraisal increases, local officials complain of the growth of unfunded mandates...

Senate Passes Property Tax Bill State Leaders Love, Local Officials Oppose

Texas Tribune, March 21, 2017

The Senate voted 18-12 in favor of bill that would require an election if a local government entity wanted to increase some of its tax collections by 5 percent or more...

Rep. Andrew Murr

2017 Begins Another Legislative Session In Austin

Mason County News, Jan. 4, 2017

Unlike the U.S. Congress which meets year round, our state legislature meets for just 140 days every two years. That means we have to get down to business right away, pass a state budget and address as many of Texas’ challenges as possible...

City, county leaders concerned about unfunded mandates

Victoria Advocate, Dec. 29, 2016

Some Victoria County elected officials are worried the 85th session of the Texas Legislature will result in less power, increased costs and potentially lower revenue for Texas' rural counties...

Who's Going to Pay for All of This?

County magazine, July 13, 2016

This article looks at the unintended consequences of the increasing number of property tax exemptions and examines how unfunded and underfunded mandates from the state and federal governments fuel the growth of county budgets...

State, Local Government Look to Curb Unfunded Mandates

Texas Tribune, April 6, 2011

Lawmakers are looking for ways to ease the effects of budget cuts on local governments — community colleges, school districts, cities and counties — by easing the unfunded mandates the state imposes on them...