ICYMI: New Report on Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying

When private parties desire to make public policy changes in our modern democratic society, they have a constitutionally-protected right to “lobby” their legislators to try to influence their decisions. But while individuals, businesses, trade groups, unions, and other special interests have a right to free speech, should government also be afforded that same right? A new report from the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Chuck DeVore suggests not.

Importantly, the report—Texas Taxpayers Shouldn’t Have to Pay for Lobbyists Who Work to Raise Their Taxes—notes that “people have rights, whereas governments have powers” and that’s problematic to think of one part of government petitioning another part of government for a “redress of grievances.” And yet in spite of these concerns the practice of taxpayer-funded lobbying persists, even here in the Lone Star State.

More from the report:

  • Cities, counties, school districts, and special districts spent as much as $41 million in taxpayer dollars on outside lobbyists to lobby state government during the legislative session.
  • Governments often lobby at taxpayer expense against the interests of their constituents. For example, consider the taxpayer money spent trying to preserve forced annexation and prevent property tax reform.
  • Local jurisdictions have resorted to lobbying the state legislature via third party lobbyists and in-house lobbyists to vouch for their interests in the capitol.

The bottom line: governments—but especially Texas local governments—have no business using taxpayer dollars to lobby for more taxpayer dollars. It’s time to end taxpayer-funded lobbying in Texas and make sure that “taxpayers do not fund special interests in Austin.