The cost of operating the City of Houston government has grown over the last two decades at about twice the reasonable yardstick rate of combined growth in population and inflation. See main page button titled “City Budget Fat”.
It is obvious that a continuance of that trend will seriously damage the Houston economy and taxpayers’ wallets. The solution is two-fold.
One, the considerable fat must be trimmed from the City’s budget. The “City Budget Fat” button information points out many areas of fat and prescribes some approaches for reducing the fat.
Two, in order to ensure that the future growth rate is reasonable, the City’s charter needs to be amended to put in place reasonable and flexible, but voter-controlled, limitations on the amount of money that the City has available to spend each year.
A proposed charter amendment to do exactly that will be on the ballot sometime in 2004. See above button titled “Petition Language”, for the language of the enabling petition. See above button titled “Frequently Asked Questions” for information regarding the proposed amendment.
The petition was authored by our bipartisan non-PAC group, Citizens For Public Accountability. A totally unaffiliated and nonpartisan political action committee, Let The People Vote PAC (LTPV), became interested in the document and obtained around 30,000 petition signatures in a little over one month in late summer 2001. About 1,000 signers felt so strongly that they attached contribution checks.
LTPV submitted the RevCap petition to the City of Houston secretary in September 2001, very shortly after LTPV submitted another petition on a different proposed city charter change. The mayor had the city secretary’s office first examine and count the signatures on the other petition, and refused to assign any of the other many more than 20,000 city employees to do the simple validation of the RevCap petition signatures in time to also get it on the November 6, 2001 ballot.
The city secretary eventually certified that the RevCap petition had the required minimum of 20,000 qualified signatures, but too late to get it on the November 6, 2001 ballot.
A separate proposed city charter amendment, on yet another subject, did get voter approval on November 6, 2001, thereby creating a significant further delay in the voters obtaining the right to vote on this RevCap proposal. That is because state law requires that, if a city charter amendment is approved by the voters, then two years must pass before any subsequent proposed amendment can be voted upon.
In a past ruling, the state attorney general has ruled that this requires that two full calendar years must have transpired. As the November 2003 “authorized uniform election date” will be on November 4, 2003, it will fall two days short of meeting the full two years requirement, since that is two days short of two full calendar years following November 6, 2001, the date of voter approval of the last city charter amendment.
The net result of all this is that the City now has the flexibility of further delaying a vote on the RevCap petition until November 2004, over three years after the petition was submitted to the city secretary. To counteract the City’s probable further delay, HB 2183 has now been submitted to the Texas legislature to require that the City hold the election in February 2004. Please contact your state representative and urge him/her to strongly support HB 2183.
LTPV will be seeking support for HB 2183 and endorsements of RevCap by incumbents and candidates for City elected offices.
District G council candidate Jeff Daily is, of course, a strong supporter of Rev/Cap, because he was cochairman of the Let The People Vote PAC that obtained the necessary number of signatures to get the issue on the ballot. Current council member/mayoral candidate Michael Berry has been the second candidate to endorse RevCap.
As a matter of interest, the very first item on council member Carroll Robinson’s “HOUSTON FIRST” plan set forth on his first day in office on January 2, 1998 was “Limit growth in the city budget to inflation plus a percentage equal to the percent of growth in the city’s population”. That is exactly what RevCap does.
Other city council members and November 2003 candidates have indicated possible forthcoming support for RevCap. We will advise you as they come on board in backing RevCap. RevCap should be a dominant issue in the November 2003 election, even though it will not be voted on until 2004. You will be able to see the city candidates’ positions on this and several other issues by visiting the website (www.texastfa.com) of Taxpayers For Accountability (TFA), after they receive the candidates’ answers to TFA’s usual election year questionnaires. TFA is totally unaffiliated with our CPA organization.