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Adler says Texas has ‘declared war’ on Austin: ‘We must be prepared to defend ourselves’

Thursday, April 18, 2019 by Stephanie Federico

Austin Mayor Steve Adler opened the annual State of the City address Wednesday with a quote from Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Adler said Austin is experiencing a “golden moment” and is in a good position to address challenges like affordability, mobility and equity. But, he said, the state’s government is “upending” the city’s success.

“In my 40 years, our city and Texas’ cities have never been so aggressively under attack by the state,” he said.

Adler said Austin was being threatened by a “state government that would seek to change who we are, that would seek to snuff out the very culture that makes this place so special, that would seek to undermine the very values that lay at the heart of our success.”

“The state has declared war against its cities,” he said, “and we must be prepared to defend ourselves as best we can.”

Adler pointed to legislation passed in the Senate that would limit how much cities can raise in property taxes to fund services, calling it a “significant assault.”

“If these caps get passed, we won’t be focusing on new programs,” he said, “we’ll be struggling with cutting existing ones.”

The proposed cap could cost the city millions, he said.

“Spending decisions are best made by the folks closest to the facts – and to the consequences,” he said.

Adler railed against the Texas Legislature trying to end the city’s ability to get paid sick leave for workers and prohibit discrimination against the LBGTQ community. He also knocked a bill that would end Austin’s ordinances regulating short-term rentals.

“It breaks my heart,” he said, “that the biggest risk Austin faces is from the Texas government.

“It a self-imposed and manufactured threat.”

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT.

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