Texas Gov't EXAM 2


Terms in this set (...)

identify the executive and legislative branches in local governments
County Executive
Township Supervisor

City council
County Board of Commissioners
Township Board of Supervisors
Township Board of Trustees
What are the differences in the two kinds of cities that can be incorporated in Texas?
1. general law cities: municipalities limited to those governmental structures and power specifically granted by Texas law, in Texas these have 5,000 people or less

2. home rule cities: the state constitution allows municipalities more than 5,000 to become one
Why is it to your advantage to incorporate?
(incorporated=consent is required)

Whenever a town "incorporates," it usually means that the residents of that area have chosen to form or join a Municipal corporation, as opposed to remaining as a Unincorporated area of the surrounding County or county-equivalent.

Aside from having some impact on the collection of census data, an incorporated city is just another form of Local government in the United States, which forms another layer of government that (at least in principle) gives the residents of that area more direct power and influence over laws and regulations in their area, that have an immediate impact on their daily lives. For example, incorporated towns and cities usually have their own police forces that operate independently of county or statewide law enforcement agencies (such as county sheriff's offices or state police). They also might have their own Zoning laws and town ordinances, their own School district, their own Public works systems, all of which is paid for by city taxes collected in addition to county and state taxes.

This is the process by which municipalities are given their legal authority by the state.
What are the three basic structures of government cities can have? Give examples.
1. Commission system: a form of city government where executive power is invested in a group of professional commissioners chosen for their skills and expertise... individual members of the commission head city departments and collectively act as a city council to pass ordinance.

2. Mayor-Council System: - strong mayor- a form of municipal gov. in which substantial authority over appointments and budgets is lodge in the mayors office. The mayor is elected by voters in a city wide election, and is the chief executive and the leader of the city council.

-weak mayor- a form of municipal government in which an elected mayor and city council share administrative responsibilities, often with other elected officers

3. Council manager system: a form of gov. that features an elected city council and a city manager who is hired by the council. the council makes policy decisions, and the city manager is responsible for the day-to- day operations of the city gov.
What are the two main ways city council members are elected in Texas, and their strengths and
1. At large elections: Citywide elections where some or all city council members are elected by voters of the entire municipality rather than from neighborhood districts.


at-large systems are more common in more affluent, racially homogenous communities.

-Good for smaller cities that do not necessarily need districts
-Allows everyone a chance to vote for all council member candidates rather than ones from their district.

-Difficult for larger cities to administer
-Certain Regions of a city may be unrepresented (Ex: until recently, most city council members in my city lived within blocks of each other

2. Election districts: one candidate is elected to a legislative body. In city council elections, single-member districts are contrasted to at-large citywide elections. Members from single-member districts tend to feel greater loyalty to the residents of their own neighborhoods because they are not elected citywide

-accountability- to have a single person who is YOUR representative who you can contact
-have ONE commissioner representing your neighborhood
-racial/ethnic minorities usually stand a better chance of being represented on city councils and commissions with district elections.
-Smaller Regions within a larger city can be represented
-Wider variety of candidates may appear on ballots due to more

-Council Members may represent regional interests at the expense of the entire city.
-Possible Gerrymandering

-district elections tend to depress voter turn-out.
Why do cities want to annex land - and how does that work? What is the potential disadvantage to
Annexation powers provide cities with an important tool for planning for growth and land development by adding areas while also establishing rules for land use. Annexation further permits a city to add economic resources and to increase a city's tax base, and it remains one of the central inherent powers exercised by cities in Texas.

1. must state what they want to take over
2. people who are annexed must approve
*must have vote
3. approval of state

disadvantages: Not beneficial for those who live in the annexed land
* can not take over another incorporated area
- Urban cities can not expand
* enterprise land- take a worn down area of the city and reinvest
* city will provide infrastructure and giving tax breaks to private companies to come in and build
* a lot of economic development has density problems
* instead of expanding you have to build up which destroys property values of adjacent houses because it decreases quality of life
What are the two main kinds of taxes a city can levy?

What kinds of things do cities spend money
1. sales tax
2. income taxes

(In Austin)

1. public safety
2. flooding, drainage and water quality
3. streets and bridges
4. parks and rec
5. health and human services
6. libraries
What is the role of counties in Texas,

how are they structured,

which offices are elected by voters ̧

where does the $ come from?
Construct and maintain roads and bridges, law enforcement, dispute resolution, record-keeping and social services.

They are highly fragmented with relatively few implied powers

Structure/which offices are elected by voters:
the voters elect both county officials (such as sheriff, district attorney, clerk, auditor, treasurer, etc.) and the county board..the county board then appoints the planning commission, budget committee, county agent and the boards and officials (examples are board of health and library board)

through property taxes (The limit on county property taxes—80 cents per $100 of assessed valuation—is much lower than the limits for cities. )
Explain where school districts in Texas get the bulk of their funding -

and why a district might
have to send some of its money to a different district or to the state for redistribution?
School districts also rely on property taxes as their local funding source, though district finances are also shaped by a complex formula meant to ensure that all schools and districts receive roughly equal funding.

a reform of the state's school finance system designed to increase funding for poor school districts by redistributing money from wealthy districts (robin hood plan)
Why has Texas's school finance system been declared unconstitutional in past years?
Edgewood ISD V. Kirby, 1993....

Texas case ending discrimination against poor school districts, redistributes property taxes equally across the state from richer districts to poorer districts.

- State Supreme Court declares existing funding
system in violation of state constitution

- Funding public school districts with local property taxes violated Texas equal protection and efficient systems clauses

• Vast differences in property values from one school district to another produced an unequal system of school funding
Why do we have special districts in Texas; what are some examples?
Special districts have played a key role in facilitating this pattern of development. The Texas Constitution permits the creation of special districts for limited purposes. It authorizes such districts to issue bonds and to levy taxes to pay off the principal and interest on such bonds.

They serve a special or specific purpose...some type of particular service

most common is school district, community college district, health district, sports authority district, etc.

example: North Austin Municipal Utility District was created to provide utilities and other services including the maintenance of parks and pools for a set of residential subdivisions constructed in a previously undeveloped area that overlaps the Williamson-Travis County line. The district continues to levy property taxes and manage debt service as well as to contract for water and wastewater services and trash collection
Explain how a school district is structured.
-governed by elected board of directors
-(9 board members...4 are elected at large, 5 are elected by district)
-the board of directors sets the policy and hire the president of ACC(exec)
-ACC gets money from property taxes, state money, etc.
-the elected board are subject to the rules (leg)

k-12 districts:
-all of TX is in one k-12 public school district
-school board (leg) is elected by voters...(some by district, some @ large)
-the elected school board then hires the superintendent (exec)
What are charter schools?

What are vouchers?
charter school: a publicly funded independent school established by teachers, parents, or community groups under the terms of a charter with a local or national authority. Charter schools are like public schools, not part of traditional school district, have received permission to operate like a public school-outside a district, receive tax $, can put some limits on enrollment, testing proficiency

Voucher: A policy that allows tax deductions for families who send their students to private schools...also known as school choice..giving them their money back so they can afford private schooling
Why might one school district have substantially fewer resources than a neighboring district?
Historically, inequities in the amount of money available to local school districts in Texas have been the result of wide variations in the value of taxable property among districts.
Explain the intended and unintended consequences of statewide standardized tests.
definition: Standardized tests are any tests that are administered and scored in a pre-specified, standard manner. Standardized tests are usually used in large-scale settings in an attempt to assess the performance of students across whole schools, districts, states, and nations.

intended: to make sure all districts are on the same page, one district is not unbalanced learning wise with another...allows for comparisons to be made among schools in regards to student achievement, ensures accountability for teachers, and has the ability to inform instruction for educators.

unintended: Furthermore, the legislature decides that student promotions and graduations and financial rewards for school districts will be determined by students' scores on the tests. This approach to testing is typically referred to as high stake testing. When curriculum focuses on equipping students to succeed on standardized tests, to the detriment of broader educational goals and concepts of learning. Ex: teachers hinting at kids to take the day off
What are the reasons people might vote to join a community college district (or not)?
education is a "common good," meaning it is beneficial to everybody....public investments make a difference. Your tax
dollars combine with everyone else's to educate
our children....better doctors, lawyers, etc for the future.
What kinds of taxes can the state collect?

What kinds of taxes can local governments collect?

income tax, sales tax, oil and gas tax, car sales tax, franchise tax, business tax, sin tax, etc.

local sales tax and property tax
What are the components of a budget?

What is the difference between a surplus and a deficit?
The largest budget items for cities are public safety and emergency services: funding for police departments, fire departments, and emergency services. Other large single expenditures include the services that make up the fabric of city life—streets, transportation, municipal courts, parks, and libraries.

The list of things that cities spend money on underlines the centrality of municipal government in the day-to-day lives of people who live and work in cities. City governments, especially the home rule cities that are home to millions of Texans, allow for citizen input into decision making at the local level while providing fundamental services and infrastructure.

-city looks at where to get general fund money (sales tax, property tax, etc.) and how to spend general fund money (public safety, community services, etc.), tax rates


A surplus is when a budget, which is a spending plan, proposes to spend less than is projected as revenue. If you budget to spend $100 over a period in which you receive $120, you will end up with a surplus of of $20.

A deficit, is the reverse: the budget proposes to spend more than regular revenue is projected to be. You budget to spend $120 but revenue is projected at $100, with a deficit of $20.
(An excess of federal expenditures over federal revenues;
occurs when more money is spent than received)
Where does the state of Texas get its revenue and what do we spend it on?
Texas has no state income tax but has relatively high property taxes (local)
and relatively high sales tax which is local and state revenue...$8.25-6

1. health and human services
2. education
3. transportation
4. pensions
What is the difference between progressive and regressive tax systems?

Why is a sales tax a less
stable source of revenue for a government?
progressive- Progressive Tax (Federal Income Tax) - a graduated tax, such as an income tax, which taxes people with higher incomes at higher rates....TAKES MORE MONEY FROM THE WEALTHY

Regressive Tax (Sales Tax) - a tax that takes a higher proportion of income from people with lower incomes than from people with higher incomes....TAKES MORE MONEY FROM THE POOR


Gasoline for example has no real substitute and as a result the revenue from these goods is more stable than the sales tax. Sales tax has a higher degree of elasticity and tends to fall or rise with the economy.
Why is it in the interests of the economy and Texas for workers to earn good wages?
If people have good wages in Texas, it provides taxes for the state as well as keeping the economy moving (when people have money, they can spend money)
What are some of the consequences of the fact that so many Texans have no health insurance?
pay a tax penalty to gov...

$695 for each adult and $347.50 for each child, but no more than $2,085 per family, OR

2.5% of your family yearly taxable income, but no more than the national average annual premium for a bronze plan sold through the Marketplace
What populations most benefit from Texas Health and Human Service programs?
The THHS are responsible for overseeing the Medicare and Medicaid policies in the state.

-medicaid: needy Americans of all ages

-medicare: 65 and +
What is the relationship between the poverty line and the minimum wage?
hours a person works per week x how many weeks the work = hours they work in a year x minimum wage = poverty line

First: hours a person works times the weeks they work. And that should show you the hours they work a year.

Then: multiply the minimum wage by the hours throughout the year.
Explain the concept of a public good and give an example.
a commodity or service that is provided without profit to all members of a society, either by the government or a private individual or organization.

ex: water or sewage service
How does Texas' interest in generating more college graduates conflict with the Legislature's policy decision about tuition deregulation?
tuition deregulation- a near doubling of tuition rates between 2003 and 2011.

makes it more difficult for more people to attend college aka harder for people to graduate
What is the unintended consequence of the Legislature's decision to deregulate tuition?

What was the intended consequence?
-fewer kids are able to go to college which makes fewer able to go then graduate

—higher tuition shifts some of the costs of higher education off of taxpayers and on to consumers.
What is a bond?

What is a tax abatement?
b: a certificate issued by a government or a public company promising to repay borrowed money at a fixed rate of interest at a specified time

ta: exempts an organizations assets from taxation for a given period of time
What kinds of things do governments make decisions about other than spending money?

Do those
decisions cost anything?
-binding decisions.
Examples include boards of review that hear appeals of property valuation determines made by the local governments' property tax assessor;

-zoning decisions

yes, could cost taxpayers up to millions of dollars
What is an interest group?
organization of people with similar policy goals who enter the political process to try to influence or change government
Explain how interest groups can impact public policy; what tools do they use?
lobbying: a communication by someone other than a citizen acting on his or her own behalf, directed to a governmental decision maker with the hope of influencing his or her decision.

grassroots lobbying: influencing government decision makers though indirect pressure (usually in the form of letters, emails, phone calls) from large numbers of constituents. This is also called indirect lobbying.

paid professionals: can employ or contract professionals to talk directly to people in the government
How influential are interest groups and lobbyists in Texas' state government?
there are 1.8k lobbyist in texas

Economic interest groups most common
2/3 of interest groups in Texas represent some form of business

Most powerful in Texas: TAB...Texas association of business

"lobbyist are a powerful tool especially in Texas legislative"
What has the state done to make them more transparent?
sunshine laws- Law requiring agency meetings and decision-making process to be open to the public. One way of making agencies more accountable to Congress and the public.

Under the Texas Open Records Act passed in 1973, the public including the media has access to a wide variety of official records and to most public meetings of state and local agencies. This act is a way to prevent or expose bureaucrative ineptitude, corruption, or unnecessary secrecy.
Explain the Free Rider problem.
people not donating to interest groups but relying on others to pay and influence while still weeping the benefits
Explain the difference between the beliefs of Pluralists and Hyperpluralists.
pluralists believe interest groups are good while hyperpluralists believe there are far too many competing voices/interest groups amplify the noise while conflicting with large amounts of money and not having enough civil conversation
What is the difference between an interest group and any other group which shares an interest?
interest groups must have people or organizations willing to finance the group, they are actively attempting to influence government policymakers through direct and indirect methods

they help bridge the gap between citizens and government, help raise public awareness and inspire action on various issues, provide public officials with specialized information that may be useful in making policy choices, serve as another check on public officials
What is
the difference between an interest group and a political party?
a political party is a group of people who organize to win elections, operate the government, and determine public policy, whereas an interest group is a group of people who share common goals and who actively try to influence policymakers.