Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price are among those calling for a detente in Gov. Greg Abbott’s war against local control, joining 16 other municipal leaders in asking to discuss the conservative governor’s “specific concerns with Texas cities” ahead of a special legislative session in Austin. The mayors of Arlington, Denton, Frisco, Irving, McKinney, and Plano also signed the letter requesting a meeting with Abbott.
Local leaders and the governor have been on a collision course since Abbott announced his agenda for the session, much of which targets issues that have typically been the domain of cities, counties, and school districts. This includes the controversial “bathroom bill,” tree ordinances, caps on municipal government spending, and property tax reforms. Last week, Dallas County Commissioners sent a letter to the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature warning that tax proposals on that agenda would force Texas into a “state centralized model, like California.”
Interestingly enough, Abbott too has summoned the liberal specter of the country’s third biggest state as a bogeyman, saying last month that he would “not allow Austin, Texas, to California-ize the Lone Star State.”
Because God forbid city and state leaders on either side of the aisle here borrow any ideas from a state that has its problems, but also a healthy economy and a robust program to curb the effects of climate change.
Here’s the text of the 18 mayors’ letter to Abbott:
Dear Governor Abott:
Texas cities are among the fastest growing in the country and play a critical role in the Texas economy. We believe that several of the proposals announced as part of the call for the 85th Special Legislative Session will directly impede the ability of Texas cities to provide vital services that reflect the priorities of local residents. We would like the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the role cities play in attracting jobs and investments to support the prosperity of the State of Texas.
Recent reports project that the largest cities in our state will increase in population by at least 50 percent over the next 25 years. People are moving to Texas cities because we are home to strong job markets and places where they want to live and raise their families. To prepare for this rapid growth, we must continue to have the tools to manage our budgets, improve infrastructure, provide critical services like public safety and pass policies reflective of local resident priorities. Harmful proposals such as revenue and spending caps, limiting annexation authority and other measures preempting local development ordinances that directly harm our ability to plan for future growth and continue to serve as the economic engines of Texas.
As Mayors, we are dedicated to delivering quality services to our residents and attracting new businesses to move Texas forward. We respectfully ask to schedule a meeting with you as soon as possible to discuss your specific concerns with Texas cities and how we can work together to ensure a productive partnership for Texas.