In a new campaign spot for Congressional District 36 Republican Ben Streusand compares his run-off opponent Dr. Brian Babin to President Obama when it comes to defending tax increases.
The Streusand campaign accuses Babin of raising school taxes 187 percent during his time on the Woodville school board in 1993. The ad says Babin voted to raise Woodville city taxes 38 percent.
Streusand accuses Babin of raising taxes a half dozen times.
But documents presented by Woodville City Manager Mandy Risinger imply Streusand is cherry-picking his facts. During Babin's tenure as councilman and mayor, the adopted tax rate per 100 dollars valuation fell from $1.25 to 37 cents or a 70 percent decrease.
And Tyler County Chief Appraiser Eddie Chalmers calls the Streusand claims about Babin's time on the Woodville I.S.D. school board misleading and inaccurate.
Chalmers says school districts had no choice but to return to previous school funding methods in 1993 when Babin was on the board. Texas school boards had half the money after the Texas Supreme Court ruled the Robin Hood plan unconstitutional.
Chalmers says again it's not quite the whole truth. Streusand stands by his campaign ad and sent us a statement in response to this story.
"Claiming taxes went down by 70% is absurd, no government body has ever reduced taxes 70%. What you appear to reference is Texas' unification to a single county appraisal district which created larger, countywide tax bases. The actual amount of taxes citizens paid did not go down. Dr. Babin then voted to increase city taxes and fees in 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1988. While we don't agree with your defense of Babin's tax increases concerning the time period you reference as "Robin Hood", what is indisputable are Babin's votes to increase rates in 1992, 1993 and 1994. In addition to the tax increases Babin also increased sewer, cable and water fees. Dr. Babin has an undisputed record of increasing taxes."
The Babin campaign has also responded.
"A simple review of public records proves Dr. Brian Babin's conservative bonafidbona fidesax-cutter and leader who helped lead his community through challenging times of Democrat government overreach into economic prosperity. Any claim otherwise is false and has been proven false by public records and by the statements of three separate Woodville and Tyler County public officials: Tyler County's Chief Appraiser, Woodville's City Manager and the Superintendent of Woodville ISD.
As Woodville Mayor and City Councilman, Babin reduced taxes by over 70% during his very first term as a Councilman and reduced taxes over 12% cumulatively during his 8 years as Mayor and City Councilman in the 1980's. Despite Babin's opponent's desperate and false claims, his opponent cannot provide any data to contradict these facts, including any meeting minute's excerpts. Moreover, these facts are confirmed by the City Manager of Woodville in a letter dated April 16, 2014. The Manager also notes that "the City of Woodville's current financial and economic stability can be attributed to many of the infrastructure and economic development projects undertaken by the City during the 1980's" when Babin served as Mayor of Woodville and Woodville City Councilman. In the early to mid 1990's school boards across Texas had to comply with the Equalization or ‘Robin Hood' legislation passed by, at that time, the Democrat-controlled Texas Legislature.
Despite that, in Woodville, Babin and his fellow Board members managed to keep taxes down and still provide for Woodville students and protect the taxpayers of the district. The Robin Hood mandate was ruled unconstitutional by the Texas Supreme Court 2 years later. It is simply wrong and ill-informed to claim, as Babin's opponent desperately has, that any ISD member, in Woodville or otherwise, raised taxes in the 1990s as1990'ssult of the actions of Democrat controlled government-mandated, unelected and completely separate taxing authorities which existed for a limited time. This is confirmed by the Tyler County Chief Appraiser in a letter dated April 8, 2014 and also by a letter released by the Woodville ISD.
Accordingly, the public record clearly reflects that Dr. Brian Babin is a conservative Republican who lives and fights for the fiscal and family values that he represents. Babin has long been a conservative leader in Southeast Texas and will be a strong leader in Congress to fight for lower taxes and against the out-of-control government spending of the Obama Administration and Democrats.
The voters of District 36 overwhelmingly supported Brian Babin in the Republican primary because they know him, a fellow Southeast Texan, as a strong conservative leader who shares their values of smaller government, fiscal responsibility and economic freedom and they know he'll fight for those values in Washington."
A political scientist weighed in on the issue of negative campaign ads saying whether an advertisement spills fact or fiction doesn't really matter anyway.
"The idea is to get peoples attention," Dr. Bruce Drury, former Lamar University Political Science Professor, said. "The studies are kind of mixed but basically they say that 'attack' ads do not work; they turn people off. It's a tricky line to walk. You want to get people's attention but you don't want to be so mean and nasty that you turn people off."
Drury says what does matter is that Babin's campaign responds as soon as possible. Drury says Babin now needs to get people's attention which might require a similar type of campaign ad.