With Court Case Comes Questions on Commercial Appraisals

Also, the governor says he hasn't talked to the attorney general in weeks.

While few state leaders have weighed in yet on the city of Austin's lawsuit challenging the state's property tax system, representatives for the Big Three were asked to give their take on it at a panel discussion Thursday morning.
 
Throughout the event hosted by the Texas Association of Counties, Carolyn Merchan Saegert, tax adviser to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Meredyth Fowler, an attorney for House Speaker Joe Straus, and John Hryhorchuk, senior budget adviser for Gov. Greg Abbott, repeatedly pointed to property taxes as the top issue their bosses heard about from voters.
 
At one point, a county official asked the panelists about Austin's lawsuit and whether their bosses would ever back efforts to improve the accuracy of commercial appraisals, such as mandatory disclosure of real estate transaction prices, an issue at the center of the suit.
 
“I think in light of the new litigation going on, I think that’s going to be a discussion," said Fowler. "It could be an interim charge even... It wouldn’t surprise me if we start directing our focus on more ways than just property tax relief in the traditional sense.”
 
Saegert was more vague about Patrick's take.
 
“I can’t say that my boss has taken a position on the subject matter of the litigation," Saegert said. "I know he finds issues in the appraisal system but we did not purposely block any legislation related to that matter.”
 
Hryhorchuk didn't respond to the question.

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Hillary Clinton's campaign on Tuesday recruited state Sen. Royce West to make the case for her plan to curb college costs and ease student debt. 
 
On a conference call, West told reporters the Democratic presidential frontrunner's New College Compact would build on similar efforts over the years in the Legislature.
 
"It’s right up the alley ... what we’re talking about but more improved," said West, a Dallas Democrat.
 
Clinton's campaign put out a report before the call that said students in Texas who have loans graduate with an average debt ranging from $11,000 to $40,400. The report estimated her plan could save a family earning $50,000 a year more than half that in costs related to a four-year college. 

On the call, West also made official his support for Clinton's bid for the White House. He told reporters he was endorsing her because she is the "most qualified candidate in the race."

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GOP SD-24 candidate Dawn Buckingham is going up with the campaign’s first two radio ads.
 
One, “Pioneer,” introduces and gives a bio of the Austin ophthalmologist. The other, “Pretty Simple,” addresses illegal immigration, which is one of Buckingham’s highlighted issues.

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During a visit to an Austin elementary school for the first day of school on Monday, Abbott mentioned that he hasn’t spoken to Ken Paxton since the Texas attorney general was indicted Aug. 3 on three felony securities fraud charges.

“The process needs to work its course,” he said when a reporter asked whether he believed Paxton should resign. “Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”

Disclosure: The Texas Association of Counties was a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune from 2011-13A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.