It’s Time To Take The Keys Away

Posted in Election 2008, Taxes, 2008 Primary, Had Enough Yet?, Around The State, Commentary, Uncategorized at 12:23 pm by wcnews

Since the Texas GOP did such a good job of “lowering” our property taxes two years ago, (see video of 39% here), now the “wing-nuts” want to outlaw property taxes and jack our sales taxes through the roof.

State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford) wants a constitutional ban on the use of property taxes to fund public schools in Texas.

“I am absolutely convinced that my constituents, and frankly, the voters across Texas would rather pay a sales tax when they purchase something than a property tax for the rest of their life,” King said speaking by phone Wednesday.

King actually let the cat out of the bag at a fundraiser in Weatherford Tuesday. He told supporters a special House committee has been formed and charged with studying how to abolish the use of property taxes to fund public schools.

Via OffTheKuff, Paul Burka shreds Rep. King’s proposal.

There are only two possible solutions to finding the revenue to fund the elimination of property taxes: a personal income tax, which would make the most sense but is politically unpalatable, or an increase in sales tax revenue. (Some have suggested a state property tax at a low rate, but the rate will not stay low.) Similarly, there are only two ways to find the necessary revenue from the sales tax: raise the rate or broaden the base.


The final problem with the Phil King plan is that its ultimate purpose is not to help state government but to hurt it. Conservatives want high sales taxes because they reveal the true cost of government. Every time you buy a product and have to pay a big sales tax, the chances are you will get mad. Government has been skillful about taxing income; you only notice the tax once a year. The same is true of property taxes. You only notice them on the day the assessment arrives in the mail. But sales taxes are omnipresent. The ultimate object of high consumption taxes is to inspire a tax revolt. This is all about conservative ideology.

How anyone can expect these people who don’t believe government can fix any problems, not every problem mind you, to govern competently is beyond me. Just think back to the Katrina response and the mess at the Department of Homeland Security, for example. From Rep. King’s proposal it should be clear that these Republican radicals, which run Williamson County too, would outlaw all taxes if they could.

The AAS has a story today about how the Texas GOP’s latest casualty, the small business owner, who is about to get their first taste of the new GOP tax that was imposed on them.

Homeowners are writing checks to pay property taxes. Small-business owners are talking to their accountants about the state business tax that will be due for the first time in May. And Texas House members, readying for the 2008 elections, are hearing the rumbling of discontent, particularly in what could be a busier-than-normal campaign season of contested Republican primaries.

Notice that their only concern is their (re)election campaigns, not the bad public policy they created.

There are a few things that are mentioned in passing, or not at all, in many of the stories about the property tax in Texas. One is that what this is ultimately, supposed to be, about is creating a fair, sane, way to fund public education. And the vast majority of Texans believe in public education even if the Texas GOP doesn’t. As Burka, and most people understand, with a small, progressive, federally deductible, state income tax we could cut property taxes to almost nothing and fully fund public education in Texas. That’s a non-starter for the radical Texas GOP because it would cause those with higher incomes to start paying their fair share. Most stories fail to mention the fact that this bad new tax system was passed because it had to be. The state’s public schools were going to be closed if they didn’t pass something.

It’s always seemed odd to me that Texas has had issues with funding it’s public education for quite some time, while other states have not. When looking at states that have well funded, quality, public schools many, if not all, have a state income tax. I suspect it’s that way for a reason. There are no states looking at Texas for a solution on how to fund and run a public educations system. This will continue to be a problem as long as Texas continues to put a band aid on this hemorrhaging wound.

The Texas GOP has long been more worried about selling slogans, and catch phrases, when it comes to taxes, than creating good public policy. Their scheme of “trickle-down economics” is now being seen for what it is: A plan to defund the part of our government that aids and supports low and middle income Americans, in order to for their wealthy campaign contributors/corporations to pay little or no taxes.

Often times things have to get really bad before “unpalatable” but needed fixes can become reality. While it’s nice that “wing-nuts” like Rep. King are using idiotic talking points like this to try and win his primary race, it’s not doing anything to get us any closer to a solution - fair, sane public policy to fully fund public education in Texas. And as long as these same Republicans have the keys to our government nothing will change. It’s long past time to take the keys away from these radical Republicans that have been running our state government into the ground.


  1. Amerloc said,

    December 10, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    I bought fifty pounds of bird seed this afternoon at TSC here in Taylor, and didn’t pay dime one of tax. But last week, when I bought new underwear and socks at a different store, I paid the 8.5% Taylor sales tax.

    Now, it strikes me that civilized folk could disagree about whether it is necessary to feed wildlife, or even if birds who feed in the middle of Taylor ARE wildlife. But how civilized must you be to need socks or underwear?

    This is the third state I’ve lived in, and it’s the only one that taxes the sale of skivvies but not birdseed. I’d love to know the rational behind that. Or don’t real Texans wear skivvies?

  2. Amerloc said,

    December 10, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    I maybe should have clarified that Nevada, the last state I lived in before Texas, and a known hotbed of librul thinking, considered food and clothing “necessities” and therefor exempt from sales tax. But I guess maybe I could boil up a mess of birdseed gruel and cut the bag into underwear…

    And yes, beer is food :-)

  3. wcnews said,

    December 10, 2007 at 11:53 pm

    It’s always interesting to see the games governments play with taxes.

  4. remerson said,

    December 10, 2007 at 11:59 pm

    Well, birdseed may be a staple in some diets, given the destruction of the economy being perpetrated on us Americans under this “government-is-bad” regime. (Doing away with government creates anarchy, which increases the capacity of the powerful to victimize the weak. And they’re okay with that.)

    Whereas, the folks who come up with these “schedules” don’t think that socks and underwear are “necessary” for those who are forced onto the birdseed diet.

    See, your initial assumption had something to do with “civilized.” Don’t go making those assumptions.

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