The city of Austin is becoming an increasingly expensive place to live, not least because of the overgrown local governments which seem determined to drain taxpayers’ money. It might be different if this money at least be spent on things within the proper sphere of government, which would will serve Austin citizens and protect their rights and interests.
The City Council, however, just approved its “legislative agenda,” which they claim to believe “best represents the needs and concerns of Austin residents.” Saying a city has a legislative agenda is really just a fancy way to say it is spending money—taxpayer money—to hire lobbyists to advance the agenda which gives the city more power. That’s not truly about the needs and concerns of Austin residents.
Council Member Mackenzie Kelly was the only member who voted against this agenda, saying “As a matter of principle, I am against the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying.”
This agenda certainly seems more about keeping entrenched power and partisan agenda secure in the city than tending to genuine needs. It includes items for lobbyists to promote such as giving the city power to raise energy rates and control employee benefits. Several items promote greater regulation, such as zoning and eminent domain, civil rights ordinances, and climate change policy. These all take power away from the citizens and put it into the hands of their capricious rulers.
It also instructs lobbyists to oppose “limitations on city expenditures, a more restrictive revenue cap of any type, or an exclusion of new property in the effective rate calculations,” because clearly ensuring the ability for the city to excise greater and greater taxes each year represents the “needs and concerns” of Austinites.
The most concerning item by far, however, is to “oppose legislation that prohibits or restricts the city’s current ability to petition the Legislature and its elected representatives on behalf of its residents.” That is, opposing legislation prompted by the people which would restrict the city-hired lobbyists from lobbying against the will of the people.
This cannot stand. In an already over-burdened situation in Austin, taxpayer money should not be used to hire lobbyists who so clearly are instructed to advocate for the power and interests of the city, not the people. The money paid into the city should be used for things actually within the realm of governmental necessity, and the power given back to the people.