Joshua Blank

Feeding the property tax beast

October 20, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

One of the final acts of the third special session of the 87th Texas Legislature was the negotiation of SJR 2, a measure that, if approved by voters in May, would increase the homestead exemption from $25,000 to $40,000 beginning with the 2022 tax year. Property taxes have been a perennial source of griping, especially in areas of Texas experiencing rapid population growth, rapidly rising home values, and the corresponding increase in property tax bills. Of course, as policy makers have been frequently reminded during the long real estate boom in Texas, in Texas’ growth obsessed but revenue-constricted political economy, efforts to reduce property taxes enough for voters’ to actually feel the effects of legislative action are severely constrained. 

While the primary driver of that constraint is fiscal, another major constraint is public opinion. A decade of polling on property taxes illustrate that many voters notice those rising property tax bills, but are likely to be unimpressed with what ultimately amounts to legislative tinkering in efforts to validate some sort of claim that the incumbent government is addressing voters’ concerns.

Does conservative support immunize Abbott from business resistance after latest vaccination order?

October 13, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Abbott’s ratcheting-up of COVID-19 policies that are demonstratively more attentive to limiting the autonomy of organizations (particularly businesses) to set health policies in the context of COVID than they are to public health writ large seems to be rankling some of the business-friendly groups allied with Texas Republican governance. But public opinion polling throughout the pandemic suggests that there remains a strong audience for Abbott’s approach among the Republican rank and file, even as independents can be expected to have mixed responses, and Democrats are widely and deeply opposed.

An Overview of Abortion Attitudes in Texas: Four Things to Know

September 28, 2021
By: 
Joshua Blank

The reasons for the Texas GOP’s leap forward on abortion restirctions after a decade of chipping away at access are likely many, and worthy of their own piece of analysis, but looking ahead to the next set of Texas elections in 2022, the sudden change in the reproductive health landscape begs the question: where do Texas voters stand on abortion?

The national media are focused on Texas politics again – but what are Texas voters paying attention to?

September 14, 2021
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

It’s hard not to be struck by the spike in political stories coming out of Texas making national news, and we shouldn’t expect the national spotlight to stop shining on the state any time soon.

Texas Public Opinion and the agenda for the third special session of the Texas Legislature

September 8, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation calling for the third special session of the 87th Texas Legislature Tuesday afternoon, adding four items to the agenda in addition to the expected focus on redistricting, and setting September 20 for the legislature’s return. n addition to the Constitutionally mandated drawing of new district maps for the U.S. House of Representatives, the state legislature, and the State Board of Education, Abbott called on the legislature to consider and act on allocating federal COVID relief funds, “disallowing” students from competing in UIL athletics “designated for the sex opposite to the student’s sex at birth,” prohibiting COVID-19 vaccination mandates, and the dog abuse bill that the governor vetoed after the regular session. We’ve compiled results of recent polling to provide the public opinion context for all but one of the issues on the governor’s call. 

New UT/Texas Politics Project Poll finds Texans dour and deeply divided

September 2, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The latest University of Texas/Texas Politics Project poll finds Texans in a dour mood colored by a resurgent COVID-19 virus, an economy recovering yet roiled by its impact, and state politics driven by increasingly entrenched and in many instances extreme partisanship, which is being accentuated by the Republican monopoly on state government. Texans expressed more worry about the surging pandemic and its effects than in June, and gave Governor Abbott the lowest job approval rating of his tenure in office. A majority – 52% –  said the state is headed in the wrong direction, the worst assessment of the direction of the state since the inception of this polling project in 2008.

Updated trend data reveals impact of Delta variant on Texas attitudes toward COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to curb its impact

August 31, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The August 2021 University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll adds a seventh assessment of Texans’ attitudes about the coronavirus pandemic to the Texas Politics Project polling data archive, adding to attitudes collected in batteries from polls conducted in April, June, and October of 2020, and February, April, June and now August of 2021. The time series allows reporters, researchers, elected leaders, public health officials, and the public a view of how Texans’ concerns about COVID, behaviors during the pandemic, and evaluations of the official responses have changed throughout a year of pandemic conditions in Texas.

Texas Efforts to Curtail Abortion Access May Soon Test Public Tolerance

August 25, 2021
By: 
Joshua Blank
Jim Henson

If the repeated results on proposals like banning abortion after 6-weeks suggest a high tolerance for regulating abortion, voluminous and long-standing results are even more clear in illustrating that a majority of Texans do not want to ban abortion outright.

Partisan perceptions of COVID-19 danger to school kids persisted through the pandemic — and are fueling back-to-school fights over school policies

August 19, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The political conflicts over the authority to protect public health (or not) that have roiled the Texas political system since the earliest days of the pandemic are boiling over as school officials' efforts to protect children, teachers, and staff from a reinvigorated coronavirus now requires defying Gov. Abbott and his allies in all three branches of state government.

Texas Public Opinion and the Agenda for the Second Special Session of the Legislature

August 6, 2021
By: 
Jim Henson
Joshua Blank

The uncertain date of the return of the renegade House Democrats to Austin make the fate of this agenda unclear at the moment, but we do have a lot of polling data to give us a sense of public opinion on most, though not all, of the agenda proffered by the Governor.

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