Harris County approves its budget

Good priorities.

Judge Lina Hidalgo

Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday unanimously approved a $3.3 billion general fund budget that includes new investments in pollution control, public health and attorneys for indigent criminal defendants.

The $64 million in new spending represents a 2 percent increase over the current budget.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia praised the spending plan, which he said is based on a new model that seeks to fund needs rather than departments, as a more sensible approach to meeting the needs of residents.

“With a metrics-based budget … this is another new day in county government,” Garcia said.

County Judge Lina Hidalgo said the new budget process is more transparent and said the county has made key improvements after events in the past two years, including the 2019 series of chemical fires and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“This budget isn’t perfect, but we’re light years ahead of where we were in terms of ensuring we’re using every dollar wisely to help tear down barriers no individual can take on alone,” Hidalgo said in a statement.


By streamlining services and spending less on debt service, the new budget includes $132 million in new investments. Those line items include increases for the fire marshal and Pollution Control Services, totaling $1.3 million, to improve the county’s response to chemical incidents, and $5 million to launch a non-law enforcement 911 system to handle incidents including mental health crises.

The budget also includes $18 million for several justice and safety initiatives, including the hiring of visiting judges to help clear a backlog in criminal cases, expanding the Public Defender’s Office and studying racial and ethnic disparities in policing, non-punitive responses to social problems and strategies to prevent violence.

Berry proposed holding back $19 million in reserve to potentially allocate when Commissioners Court does its mid-year budget review in September, and members agreed.

An additional round of federal stimulus aid for local governments would help in the future, Berry’s budget summary states, though the county is not counting on another influx of cash.

Most of the money that the county had to spend on COVID-related expenses has been reimbursed via the CARES act. We’re probably in good enough shape that we don’t need much more from the current COVID relief bill, but I’ll be happy for us to get something anyway. There’s plenty more we can invest in if the funds are there for it.

Since the subject has come up and will no doubt continue to come up, we can discuss how Judge Hidalgo goes about her business and what it might mean for 2022 all we want. What I know is that she’s done excellent work, the county is in solid shape, and we’ve got good priorities. I’ll play that hand in a re-election campaign any day of the week.

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27 Responses to Harris County approves its budget

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    While Harris County taxpayers are struggling, and many Harris County landlords are being stiffed by government edict, Harris County is still getting their pound of flesh from property owners, and even getting 2% MORE flesh than it did last year. Super.

    This is the basic problem with government. The people are feeling pain and have to tighten their belts. Government, and government workers? No problem, just keep taxing, just keep taxing (apologies to Dorie from Finding Nemo). How does Harris County expect a landlord to pay the property tax on a property occupied by a non paying deadbeat that the county itself refuses to allow the landlord to evict? There’s no money coming in to pay that increased tax! I’m disappointed that the two remaining R’s didn’t even try to fight for the people here.

    Unless and until government, and government workers feel the pain their edicts and actions cause, they are a separate, untouchable class of people.

  2. Manny says:

    How much are people paying for water in Pearland?

    Bill, you don’t care about poor people.

    Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and all four county commissioners voted unanimously to lower the county’s overall property tax rate by 1.3 cents per $100 of assessed value — a roughly 2% cut from last year.

    Blame the Republicans in Austin; they could do more about property taxes. They could also lower or remove the sales tax, the gasoline tax, the business tax (franchise tax), etc.

    When one gets rid of the anti-democracy Trump party/supporters out of government, the working people will benefit.

  3. Bill Daniels says:


    I guess remedial math wasn’t offered to you in law school? A token lowering of the tax rate, while using your lap dogs at the tax assessor’s office to pump up taxable values, resulting in what is probably MORE than a 2% increase in property taxes overall is RAISING taxes on a population that can’t afford it. I say the average property tax value has risen more than 2% because I’m assuming that sales taxes, license plate taxes, and other taxes levied by counties are down during the pandemic.

    Of course, your taxes are frozen because you’re over 65, and you’re on the government dole with Social Security, so why should you care? Maybe you have kids or grandkids that have to pay? Maybe you should have some sympathy for your own, Manny?

  4. brad says:


    You left out in your diatribe the enormous Republican unnecessary tax cuts to the ultra-wealthy that necessitate a lot of the funding problems we have in this country.

    Unless and until rich people, and their minion government lackeys (McConnell, McCarthy) feel the pain their edicts and actions cause, they are a separate, untouchable class of people.

  5. Bill Daniels says:


    The rich, if they live in nice houses, are paying more in property tax on their mansions than we are, even if the tax rates are the same. In this way, Joel Osteen pays more taxes on his manse than you do on your Heights home, although you both should be paying the same tax RATE. Are you suggesting that Osteen, et al, pay a higher rate on their property than you do? That hardly seems fair.

    If we’re going that route, then what prevents the good people of Acres Homes, or 5th Ward, from demanding that people in the Heights pay a higher tax rate on property than they do in the 5th or Acres Homes? You OK with that? Everyone should have some skin in the game, Brad.

  6. Bill Daniels says:


    I agree that McConnell, Shumer, McCarthy, Pelosi, et al should feel some of the pain they inflict on others. Government workers don’t have to worry about not getting paid, even through a pandemic which has idled many of them. They get to sit at the house, log into their computer and….not work, but still get full pay and benefits, something not sustainable for their privately employed counterparts.

    Rare moment of agreement, Brad.

  7. Manny says:

    Bill being a trailer trash child, you have no concept of math or how it works.

    The Republicans could do something from Austin. That is a fact, and they choose not to. They make the laws that the tax assessor must follow.

    Made simpler for you simple brain; Tax Assessor follows the law, Trump trash (your kind of deplorable type people) controls that part where laws can be changed.

    You are correct math classes are not taught in law school; any idiot would know that that puts you below an idiot. They have classes on income taxes; I took that class and made an A, which is above a 90.

    I won’t apologize for living past 65; of course, that tax exemption could be changed by the Trump trash that controls the state.

    Did your mother take Social Security Bill? Did you call her names for doing that? Did she take an over 65 exemption Bill? Was she on the government dole?

    Inbreeding has affected you Bill, were your father and grandfather the same person? Or maybe your uncle was also your father?

    Sales taxes, the bulk goes to the state. I won’t answer the other part of the idiotic statement you made about the other taxes; look it up.

  8. Manny says:

    Bill, as to the uncle, I realized that may be above your ability to comprehend. That would be your mother’s brother.

    I had not insulted you Bill, but that does not mean I won’t respond to your insults or stupidity.

  9. Manny says:

    Bill, you ain’t got no skin on the game, you are gaming the system, still collecting those Social Security payments from your mother. Trailer Parks do have to replace those cluster mailboxes often.

  10. Bill Daniels says:


    Cruising past your nonsensical ad hominem diatribe for a minute, let’s focus on the “well the state should do something about property taxes in Harris County” thought for a minute.

    I thought leftists were FOR local control. Now you want the big, bad, state of Texas to fix a problem caused by Harris County, the problem being soaking vulnerable taxpayers during a pandemic? What would be so wrong with Harris County, recognizing that many of their property owners are struggling, and doing something to REDUCE the burden Harris County places on their residents?

    I actually agree with you that the state government has been ineffectual in reducing the burden homeowners face from sky high property taxes…..we agree, in a rare moment. Having said that, the proximate cause of that problem is the counties themselves, not the state government.

    I’ve just laid out the problem in real terms, Manny. Say you are renting out your deceased relative’s home that you inherited, your renter can’t or won’t pay, and now Harris County forbids you from evicting that deadbeat occupant. Yet they still demand property taxes from you, and adding insult to injury, demand MORE property tax from you than the year before. You can’t even really sell the house, because who would buy the property with a deadbeat occupant that can’t be thrown out? You’d probably be able to get something, a pittance of what it’s worth if you have to sell to pay the property tax bill, but you’ve still gotten screwed either way, courtesy of Harris County.

    Trump supporters aren’t the only ones that have rental property, Manny.

  11. Manny says:

    Bill, you changed the topic; what does what I believe has to with your stupid statements?

    First, there are exemptions to the evictions, which have numbered the hundreds during the last year.

    You come up with scenarios that are not completely factual and mostly entirely wrong. You are used to passing that BS to the low brains you associate with.

    Have you ever been a landlord Bill, do you know how it works and how it is used to offset other income? Many of the people buying homes now to lease or rent are investors; there are exceptions. Yes, some will get hurt, but those are not the majority. The loss of income from a rental property is also a tax offset.

    If the Republicans could get on board, Democrats would make small businesses and small landlords as a whole as possible again, but the Trump Party is against helping them.

    Bill, I am actually a fiscal conservative. I know how the system works. The Trumpists are gaming the system.

    But one does need government.

  12. Jason Hochman says:

    Bill what about the nonpaying deadbeat who can’t pay because his job or business got shut down, which is not his fault. Now that is just passed on to landlords, many of them are small businesses, or are renting a few properties as an investment.

  13. David Fagan says:

    “trailer trash child” – Manny’s racist epithets.

  14. Lobo says:

    Re: “trailer trash child”

    It’s an insult, alright, but it’s not racist since the factual premise is ‘living conditions of parent(s)’. Classist perhaps, assuming the relationship of living in a trailer with low-quality housing, as opposed to a high-end RV of the towable kind.

    Even if the factual premise is accurate, it’s fundamentally unfair to blame a child for the economic status or living conditions of the parent.

  15. Manny says:

    David the racist/bitter fireman. Not brave enough to quit rather whine David Fagan? What do Trump lovers have in common? They love to whine and act like female dogs.

    Did I intend trailer trash as a racial slur, yes. But I notice that the whiny bitter fireman (David Fagan) has no qualms about the racial slurs slung at me by Bill Daniels. You are a racist David Fagan or whatever your real name is. Others don’t say anything either, but they don’t attack me as the racists do, which refers to you, David Fagan, the bitter racist HPD fireman.

  16. Manny says:

    Lobo, will you make the same argument when Bill attacks people because of the color of their skin or their nationality?

  17. Manny says:

    Real men move on when the company/government shafts them, David, you yourself keep stating how many firemen/women are quitting. Guess those are the real men/women. They don’t whine and act like female dogs. They move on.

  18. Manny says:

    Jason, you are correct and the Democrats would make those people as whole as possible, but you people are too stupid to realize that.

  19. C.L. says:

    This has devolved into, “I’m rubber, you’re glue”.


  20. David Fagan says:

    Thank you for your input, Manny.

  21. Lobo says:


    Thanks for the link, David. The critical element here is the conditions of living — rather than the race of the occupants — and therefore concerns socio-economic class. The latter is a distinct phenomenon that may or may not be correlated with race or ethnicity, depending on place and time. Indeed, if the resident population of a particular geographic unit is homogenous in terms of race and ethnicity, you will still have socio-economic stratification and differences in the material conditions of life, including quality of habitation and degree of permanence thereof. In other words, the distinguishing criterion can be completely independent of race or ethnicity.

    So, Wikipedia currently says this:

    “Trailer trash is a derogatory North American English term for poor people living in a trailer or a mobile home.[1][2] It is particularly used to denigrate white people living in such circumstances[3] and can be considered to fall within the category of racial/ethnic slurs.[4]”

    NOTA BENE: “can be considered” and “particularly used” which means not exclusively.

    The defining condition, however, which I called the factual premise, is and remains the living condition of the person at the receiving end of the insult, whether true or falsely attributed. Note that stereotyping based on socio-economic status does *not* involve a fixed ascriptive attribute, and deserves a different analysis for that reason also, including the public policy implications: social/economic policy vs. nondiscrimination/civil-rights policy.

    So, while there is an argument to be made regarding the race-conscious usage (application of the term to a subset of whities only, not a corresponding subset of blacks or all blacks), this doesn’t change the fact that the crucial element is the condition of the housing/living conditions.

    As far as derogatory name-calling goes, what we have is “classism” in that the term refers to people at a low rung on the socio-economic ladder.

    The expressly racist version – in juxtaposition to this – would be “white trash”.


    In sum, whether “trailer trash” is (also) properly characterized as racists is debatable, unless and until perhaps our Lone Star Supremes impose their very own collective understanding of what it means “as a matter of law” as they did in their Welfare Queen jurisprudence.

    The case about that royal moniker is particularly interesting because it involved a disagreement over whether or not Wikipedia constitutes a valid “authority” on the matter of semantics and usage. Suffice it to say summarily that our Supremes put themselves above the wisdom of the wikipedians.

    Case cite: D Magazine Partners, L.P. v. Rosenthal, No. 15-0790, 529 S.W.3d 429 (Tex. 2017)(“We agree with the magazine that the court of appeals’ reliance on Wikipedia led to an unduly narrow interpretation of the article’s title that, in turn, impacted the court’s analysis of the plaintiff’s defamation claim.”)


    Channeling St. Antonin — less colloquially known by his non-trailer-trash father’s surname as Scalia, having sailed from Sicilia, Justice Guzman concurringly opined: As a court, one of our “chief functions” is “to act as an animated and authoritative dictionary.

    On she went:

    ‘In an age when news about “fake news” has become commonplace, long-standing concerns about the validity of information obtained from “consensus websites” like Wikipedia are not merely the antiquated musings of luddites.[7] To the contrary, as current events punctuate with clarity, courts must remain vigilant in guarding against undue reliance on sources of dubious reliability. A collaborative encyclopedia that may be anonymously and continuously edited undoubtedly fits the bill.[8]”

    For the record, I disagree with Guzman. Wiki articles are at all times subject to dispute and correction, and all editing changes are recorded and retraceable. Just click the “View History” tab. High court rulings on the meaning of slang words and phrases are by fiat. Under current conditions, nine judicial Republicans get to impose their understanding of Welfare Queen and urban or rural diction entries of like or sundry kind.

    And if these matters are decided as “legal question”, then there is no role of empirical evidence of actual usage and changes therein to be introduced in the evidentiary phase of a legal dispute that center on the meaning of words and phrases used to denigrate.

  22. Manny says:

    In my First-year law school, the contract professor, Johnson, said something that has always stuck in my mind. The Supreme Court Justices are not smarter; they have the last word.

  23. Manny says:

    That was for Lobo, not you David you would not comprehend.

  24. David Fagan says:


    I’m rubber, you’re glue, so nanny nanny boo boo, stick your head in………

  25. Manny says:

    David, you wanted to play. Have a great day,

  26. Jason Hochman says:

    I heard that the judge of Harris County said that the current cold snap is like a Category 5 hurricane. If so, we need a new judge. The mayor apparently made some similar statement. Fear mongering is not leadership. Just look at the Covid disaster.

    A category five hurricane would destroy and flood many Houston homes, power would be off for weeks, streets impassable. Billions of dollars in damage. This is a cold snap. It’s winter. You are the folks who cried about climate change and how winter is never cold anymore. Now our local leaders are creating a panic and a run on the grocery store.

    Here is what to do: it is going to be chilly for a couple of days (I consider cold to be below 20), and maybe a brief period of cold. Wear a coat, and gloves and hat when you go outside. There may be freezing precipitation at some point. When driving on snow or ice, slow down, be alert, drive extra cautiously, no sudden braking or steering, or accelerating. Otherwise just act like the snow is not there. If you don’t need to drive, then don’t. This is only going to last a few days, how much supplies do you need to survive for two days? This is nothing like a category five hurricane.

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