Shaming doesn’t work

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Commentary, Taxes at 1:15 pm by wcnews

It appears that Paul Burka is trying to shame Rick Perry with this post, The Tea Party, Rick Perry, and Debt.

I seldom find myself in agreement with the tea party, but they are dead right in their skepticism of debt. This is why you can make the argument that Rick Perry is not a true conservative. He won’t raise taxes, but he doesn’t mind going deep into debt-and retiring debt is about the most expensive thing government can do. His proposal to capitalize $41 billion in debt to build roads is rash.

All that needs to be said to that is malarkey. The so-called “conservatives” since St. Ronnie have been about nothing but debt. That is modern conservatism, starve the beast, run up deficits with tax cuts and then cut government. But the only thing more bizarre is what Burka thinks the cure should be. A “blue ribbon” panel of our state “conservative” leaders to raise taxes.

I would urge state leaders to put together a blue ribbon panel on the issue of how we should finance state government. The classic model of government finance is the “three-legged stool”: a combination of sales taxes, property taxes, and income taxes. Trouble is, in Texas, one of those legs is missing, and I doubt that it will ever be “found.” What Texas does have that most other states lack is severance taxes on oil and gas. But relying on severance taxes is not a good long-term strategy because the price of oil is volatile. Back in 1986, oil fell below $10 a barrel. What I think Texas needs to do is protect the revenue stream of its most important tax, the sales tax. This can be achieved by raising the sales tax in small increments over time. The same could be done for the gasoline tax. The idea is not for the state to get a windfall. The idea is to ensure that the revenue stream is protected, that when the economy tanks, as it will eventually do, the state has the flexibility to raise the rate.

One thing that such a panel should tackle is tax exemptions. The biggest of these is the ag tax break. I certainly support ag tax breaks for individual landowners who make their living from the land. But the ag tax break should not be available to major corporations who get a break from running cattle on their land.

That’s about as likely to happen as Perry and the wing nuts accepting Medicaid expansion, as is.

Burka does a little better trashing Perry’s tax cut proposal. Debt and tax cuts are the GOP’s economic plan.

In fact, this is one of the worst. He wants to cut a tax that is underperforming. The state’s business margins tax was created in the middle of the previous decade to close the gap between the cost of a 33% cut in school property taxes, mandated by the Texas Supreme Court and enacted in 2003, and the amount required to sustain the Foundation School Program. As most readers are well aware, the margins tax never brought in the amount it was predicted to produce. As a result, with each succeeding biennium, the underperformance of the margins tax opened a recurring $2 billion structural deficit in the state budget, which is one reason the state’s budget, and particularly education funding, has been in trouble for most of the first decade of the 21st century. The structural deficit, which the LBB acknowledged in 2009, is a major reason for the chronic underfunding of education.

Yep, that’s the Texas GOP’s intentional plan to defund public education, which true conservatives have always hated.

I think Burka is honestly trying to find a way for everyone to just get along. But I think we’re way beyond that. The only way we can get back to rational politics again in this state is to start electing people that believe in things like public education again.

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