Republican Commissioners abscond again


Republicans Tom Ramsey of Precinct 3 and Jack Cagle of Precinct 4 skipped Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting as part of an ongoing battle of political wills that could extend until the deadline for approving a tax rate passes at the end of October.

The decision prompted the three Democrats on Harris County Commissioners Court to go into an executive session to discuss with the county attorney’s office whether they have legal options to compel the two missing commissioners to attend. County Judge Lina Hidalgo had little to report after the session but said the county attorney’s office is researching options.

The court will consider the tax rate again at its next meeting on Oct. 11, potentially forcing the two Republican commissioners to make a similar decision next month if they have not reached a compromise by then.

Hidalgo opened the meeting alternately lambasting Ramsey and Cagle’s absence and lamenting the potential impacts of the county’s inability to approve its proposed tax rate.

“Our hospital system will operate at a $45 million deficit,” Hidalgo said. “A cadet class will be at risk.”

State law requires four members of the court be present to set the property tax rate.

See here and here for the background. There’s apparently some talk of a compromise, which would need to happen soon, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Giving this much power to a governing minority is the problem here. I don’t know what legal options the majority has, but I do know that the Speaker of the House has the authority to call upon the Texas Rangers to round up legislative quorum-busters, which is why they always flee the state. Maybe Judge Hidalgo can call on the Sheriff to pick up the wayward Commissioners and haul them into the meeting room so that the legal requirement of at least four members being present can be met? I suppose if this happens the next thing we’ll hear about is Angela Paxton driving them away, probably as they hunch down in the back seat of her SUV, for the safety of the suburbs. Just for the comedy value, I’d like to see this scenario play out. I won’t hold my breath for it.

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5 Responses to Republican Commissioners abscond again

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    “Our hospital system will operate at a $45 million deficit,” Hidalgo said.

    If my math is correct, that works out to about 3 temporary hospitals that will treat no one, that wont be able to be funded. Looking at it a different way, that is about 4 sweetheart deals to one woman companies working out of an apartment that wont be funded.

    Speaking of, I wonder if we have any quantifiable data on negative effects of not letting that $ 11M contract to inform the public about covid . Were people injured or killed because that contract was stopped?

    And since the covid emergency is over per Joe Biden, it seems like we should be spending less on county medical care, right?

  2. Doug says:

    One who thinks these two county commissioners are cowards, but that the Dem legislators hiding in Washington last year during special sessions were heroes, is a hypocrite.

    The system that lets the minority thwart the will of the majority like this demands that both sides seek something closer to consensus. Rarely are politicians capable of that, sadly.

  3. As a fiscal conservative and Harris County taxpayer, I’m ok with the Republicans sitting this one out. Through higher annual property appraisals, county government continues to take in a record amount of revenue (7.3% more just last year). In addition, Commissioners Court has received $915 million dollars in federal American Rescue Plan Act (APRA) funding, has $50+ million in “surplus” toll road revenue, and just received $750 million from the General Land Office for flood control projects. The County Judge and Commissioners also have millions of extra dollars set aside in their own “rollover” budget funds (Ellis alone has over $50 million). In short, Harris County government already has PLENTY of funding. Unfortunately, what they lack is the ability to properly PRIORITIZE their spending. Since 2019, Commissioners Court has created new county departments, added more levels to the bloated government bureaucracy, approved expensive, unnecessary no-bid contracts, and created numerous wasteful county programs. Just one example: With thousands of people illegally entering the U.S. every day, Judge Hidalgo created a county program to help them avoid deportation, costing us $2.5 million dollars (see link below):

    Frankly, I hope that having to adopt the “No New Revenue” tax rate will force our Commissioners Court to be more efficient and fiscally responsible with our existing taxpayer dollars. To be blunt, Harris County residents simply can’t afford all this unnecessary, irresponsible spending and, frankly, the on-going incompetence. Whomever wins in the upcoming election should be forced to refocus our county government spending back to providing core services. Sometimes, the only way to reduce wasteful government spending is to provide the government with less money to spend…

  4. One clarification: Under the “No New Revenue” tax rate, Harris County government funding is NOT being reduced. Instead, officials just aren’t allowed to use the higher property appraisals to take in even more taxpayer money than last year (which is what the Democrats are proposing to do).

  5. Manny says:

    The price of products is rising; sales tax revenue is increasing; I wonder why the Republicans are not reducing the sales tax rate?

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