DALLAS — The end result was simple enough. Harris County commissioners unanimously voted to cut the property tax rate by 3%. But there was nothing simple about getting to that compromise. Democrats initially wanted a 2.2% decrease. Republican commissioners wanted a much deeper cut and threatened to break quorum to get it. The 3% rate was the compromise.
County Judge Lina Hidalgo says she just wanted the tax rate to fund the budget at the level passed unanimously earlier this year because she says that budget helped them focus on some areas that have been underfunded for years.
“For example, we have a lot of industry in Harris County. And there are chemical releases all the time. We didn’t have air monitoring capabilities. Our public health department serves million and millions of people. Woefully underfunded. There are so many areas that just flew under the radar and departments were afraid to ask for funds,” the Democrat said on Inside Texas Politics.
Judge Hidalgo also says she’ll keep pushing for federal funding for the “Ike Dike,” a proposed coastal barrier that would protect the Houston/Galveston region from hurricane storm surge. The Biden Administration’s infrastructure plan currently does not include funding for the project. Judge Hidalgo says she’s very concerned about a hurricane coming up the Houston ship channel, which would impact not only her region, but the entire country.
“We’re the heart of the petrochemical industry. When Hurricane Ike affected us, and it didn’t come straight up our ship channel, it was enough damage to cause gas prices to go up around the nation for a while. Enormous environmental damage. So, this is the nation’s energy economy that is living here. And we have to protect it,” said Judge Hidalgo.
And as it relates to campaign funding, the Democrat expects an expensive race next year when she seeks re-election. She already has a couple of challengers and Judge Hidalgo expects her campaign to cost at least $2 Million.
“I’m expecting all manner of challengers,” she said. “There’s always going to be naysayers. So, I’m ready for a fight.”