Prospect For Rebate Checks Slim

Posted in 80th Legislature, The Budget at 12:10 pm by wcnews

In a follow-up to this post, The Rebates Are Coming, The Rebates Are Coming. Here’s the latest on Gov. Perry and his band of “wing-nuts” attempt at rebate checks, Rebates not seen as a top priority:

Gov. Rick Perry thinks lawmakers should be allowed to rebate money directly to taxpayers, but the check is far from being in the mail.

Legislative leaders, miles short of embracing the idea, are concerned about the state’s ability to make good on already-promised school property tax relief and other obligations, despite billions in projected new revenue. Some wonder how rebates could be fairly calculated.

Asked what he thinks about the rebate idea, which Perry declared an emergency item more than two weeks ago, Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, replied, “Not much.”

“The big issue to me in this session is to make sure that we set aside enough of the surplus to guarantee that we’ll be able to meet our property tax promises in future years,” Ogden said.

Legislative leaders have repeatedly cautioned that any true surplus is far smaller than the $14.3 billion in new state revenue projected by the state comptroller in the next two years. The money already has many demands on it, including the school property tax relief, not only in the next budget cycle, but also the one after that.

Several key lawmakers also have expressed concern that figuring out each Texan’s rebate would be tough because the state has no income tax that could tie rebates to taxes paid.

There’s also the question of whether businesses would be entitled to rebates, and which state official might want to be in that photo opp.

“Are we going to write checks to businesses? I don’t think I’m going to be party to that,” said Rep. Warren Chisum of Pampa, one of several leading House Republicans expressing caution.

Chisum said he’s willing to look at any details, but he thinks a better use of extra money would be to reduce the current tax burden or the state’s debt.

[…]Changing the state constitution to allow tax rebates could require a bit more enthusiasm than that because an amendment needs two-thirds support of the Legislature and voter approval in a referendum. The constitution now forbids grants of public money to individuals and others except in public calamities.

It’s doubtful that anyone except those on the far-right will follow Mr. 39% out on this limb. Kuff is at a loss for words.

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