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Legislative Testimony: Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief, April 27, 2016

The Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief continued its statewide tour this week in Arlington. Texas Impact was disappointed that members of the committee silenced witnesses who testified that legislators could ease the strain on local property taxpayers by accepting federal funds to provide health insurance to low-income Texans.

Texas Organizing Project (TOP) Volunteers and Committee Members

Dr. Tom Ripp, an ENT specialist recently retired from practice in Tarrant County, was testifying that indigent care, and resulting hospital debt, strain local property tax systems, when committee members interrupted him to dismiss the connection. Following Dr. Ripp, Ms. Lemlen Behre testified that as a property taxpayer, her property tax bill includes funds to cover indigent care that could be reduced through coverage expansion, but senators told her health care is an issue for a different committee.

Rev. Mel Caraway, Texas Impact

Rev. Mel Caraway, a United Methodist pastor, offered to cut his testimony short after committee members instructed witnesses not to bring up potential impacts of coverage expansion on property taxes. However, senators engaged him in discussion, debating whether Jesus’ exhortation to care for “the least of these” applied to governments or only individuals.