Does Austin really matter to my business?
It seems so remote, so abstract, the idea of government. Sure, we can spin a dial and point to a name, but we don’t really connect that to anything in our daily lives. Does whether or not I vote put more of my lockboxes on doors? Or get me to the closing table more often? Well, indirectly, yes. Who we put into office and what they do once they’re there does play a big part in setting the overall tone of the business climate of the state. And we all know that it’s our state’s business climate that kept us fairly stable in the Great Recession. And it’s that business climate that’s got our housing market exploding now.
Our industry is particularly vulnerable to the whims of the state legislature. With no state income tax, the state relies on counties to generate most of their own revenue through property taxes. When state spending goes down, property taxes become the go-to place to make up the difference. We’re the first ones to notice the impact. As Realtors, we’re the ones who hear about it when tax bills come. We see what happens when people can’t afford their homes any longer. We certainly notice when people buy a lower-ticket house because they’re worried about the tax bill.
We care because we want to protect our livelihood. We want to protect our rights and the rights of our clients. We care because we live here and we want common sense to prevail.
And we take action.
Through the Texas Association of REALTORS® Political Action Committee (TREPAC), we promote homeownership, protect private-property rights, and increase political awareness. We back local, state, and national candidates and elected officials who have a proven record of protecting private-property rights, preserving the dream of homeownership, and supporting the vitality of the real estate industry. We go to Austin and meet with lawmakers face-to-face. We make absolutely certain that our legislators know where we stand. We make an impact.
We work in every jurisdiction of local politics. County commissioners, judges, mayors, city council members – they all play a role in determining the direction of property rights, education, transportation, utilities, and other quality of life issues that are important to us and the real estate industry.
Aside from consumer issues, TREPAC also keeps more money in your pocket from a business standpoint. Did you know we’ve defeated legislation that would have allowed counties to impose a tax on personal vehicles used for businesses? A vehicle valued at $30,000 would have been taxed $825/year. We also defeated a proposal to impose a sales tax both on your commission and on the sale of real property. The list goes on and on.
So next time you hear about rumblings from Austin and are tempted to tune out, remember this: those lawmakers aren’t that far away. They’re eyeing your business. If you’re not careful, you will find them in your pocket.
Get involved. Make a phone call. Get on the bus on April 4. Make your voice heard. Learn more at Facebook.com/TREPAC.