North Texas

Tarrant County Leaders Lobby Lawmakers in Austin

Property tax reform, other issues, concern local elected officials

Mayors and elected officials from Tarrant County descended on the State Capitol in Austin Wednesday to lobby lawmakers on property tax reform and other issues.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price wants more funding for pre-Kindergarten programs.

"We're learning more as we kick off our Fort Worth literacy partnership how critical early learning is for the kids," she said.

Property tax reform is also a top concern.

Local governments don't want the state setting any caps on tax rates.

"We want to have the ability to raise the funds, or even, in our case as we did this time, to lower our tax rate, at our discretion," Price said.

Tarrant County leaders are pushing for more mental health funding.

"As in any large county, the county jail houses more mental health patients than any other place in the county, and that's not right," said Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley. "We need to figure out a way to do that."

At a meeting of the Fort Worth City Council, in Austin, leaders were warned this could be a tough legislative session.

"Budget-wise and appropriation-wise we didn't expect the challenges to be what they are at this particular time," said Fort Worth legislative affairs manager T.J. Patterson.

Whitley also said counties are worried about a bill that would hold them legally responsible for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants who are released from jail.

He said other issues are also important, like fixing the state's child welfare agency and suggested relations with some lawmakers are strained.

"We don't seem to be working as much as partners as opposed to one against the other and that really needs to change," he said.

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