Governor vetoes local bill for affordable housing

I am disappointed that the Governor vetoed HB 990 a bill that simply gives Travis County equality, with the City of Austin, in a tax increment financing (TIF) zone designated for affordable housing. The bill is part of a larger program established by a City of Austin ordinance that created a Homestead Preservation District to mitigate the effects of rising property taxes in Central East Austin by using three tools: a land trust, a land bank, and a TIF. The decision to enter into the TIF is a local decision by the City and the County.

The Governor states in his veto message that the area targeted is not “blighted or economically distressed.”
I invite the Governor to take a tour of Central East Austin with me and talk with the residents of Central East Austin so they can tell him whether or not the area is economically distressed. This area has experienced gentrification, and longtime, minority residents are struggling to pay their property taxes.

The Governor also says the County did not support the bill and therefore he must veto. The Travis County Commissioners Court asked for this change in 2009. This session, the County had no official position on the bill.

I received letters of support from two County Commissioners. One County Commissioner opposed the bill because of his opposition to the existing Homestead Preservation District program and continues to willfully misrepresent the entire program.

Despite this setback, I look forward to working with the City and County on ways to implement the TIF zone designated for affordable housing. The City and County can enter into an inter-local agreement to implement the intent of House Bill 990.

It is unfortunate the Governor does not place the same heavy importance on local input when it comes to other pieces of legislation that force County sheriffs to become immigration officers or takes away the local control of the Travis County Healthcare District.

I do hope the Governor can take time out of his busy national political schedule to join me on a tour of Central East Austin to better understand the needs of actual Texans.