With the election of the Texas House speaker approaching, District 60 State Rep. Mike Lang said there’s an opportunity for the first time in a decade “to actually have a true Republican speaker.”
Lang talked about the speaker’s race and other topics including property tax reform at a meeting Friday of the Brown County Republican Women’s Club, held at the Brownwood Country Club.
The current speaker, Republican Joe Straus of San Antonio, has held the seat since 2009 but isn’t running for re-election.
Lang, a Republican from Granbury, said the top question he hears throughout District 60 is the status of the speaker’s race. “We’ve had the speaker for 10 years,” Lang said. “When we got that speaker 10 years ago, the makeup of the House was a little bit different.
“The makeup of the House was about 65 Democrats. Right now we have 55. We have 95 Republicans now. We had about 11 Republicans move over and vote with the Democrats. So over that decade we’ve had what I would call a moderate to more liberal slant coming out of the House. We have an opportunity now that we haven’t had in a decade to actually have a true Republican speaker.”
Lang said in the coming election for speaker, “we don’t want a few Republicans siding with all the Democrats because we will end up again with another liberal House speaker.”
Lang said it makes a difference who the speaker is because a great deal of conservative legislation was held up in the House in the last legislative session. Property tax reform was held up in the House even though the governor, lieutenant governor and Senate wanted it, Lang said.
A conservative speaker will mean a “great legislative session,” Lang said. “If we have what happened a decade ago, we’re going to have a pretty bad session.”
Turning to the topic of property tax reform, Lang said, “we couldn’t get it done in the regular session. We couldn’t get it done during the special session.”
Lang said he believes there will be some type of property tax reform passed in the next session. He said Gov. Greg Abbott’s plan is for a 2 1/2 percent cap on property tax hikes without voter approval. The plan was 4 percent in the last session.
“We’ll have to wait and see come January what kind of House we’re going to have,” Lang said. “I know the governor and lieutenant governor and the Senate have already shown last session that they’re ready to move forward with at least 4 percent.
“I get the biggest pushback from the taxing entities. They think, with a cap … let’s take a city, for example. That city needs that money. That city has to buy patrol cars. That city has special needs. I’ll tell you what, folks. That city needs to follow the budget, just like the state follows the budget.
“And if they have to spend over their cap, it’s up to you, the people. They want more money for something, go to the people.”
Lang said he will refile a bill to repeal the law that allows a county attorney or commissioners court to accept gifts for grants to finance or asset the operation of the county attorney’s office.
Lang filed that legislation in the last session, but it died in calendars “because of liberal and moderate leadership that didn’t want it to come out,” Lang said.
Lang also said he file legislation to prevent Ranger College from making any more attempts at annexing Brown County into its college district.
“I’m less taxes, I’m less government,” Lang said before taking audience questions. “I’m not for zero taxes. I’m not for zero government.”
It’s important to make sure tax dollars aren’t being wasted, Lang said.