A super majority runs amok

Posted in Around The State, Bad Government Republicans, Taxes, The Budget at 10:22 am by wcnews

Yesterday the extreme right of the Republican Party in the Texas Legislature released their latest tax scheme. It’s the same plan of the third place finisher in last year’s GOP primary for governor. That’s right Libertarian Republican Debra Medina’s plan is what the “wing nuts” want our state to adopt. Essentially the plan involves scrapping property taxes all together and replacing them with sales taxes on everything. Back during the campaign last year it was estimated that and plan like this would likely cause the sales tax to be as high as 21% - on everything we buy!

Now there’s a reason why they want to do this. Property taxes are one of the fairer, less regressive, taxes we have. Which means that the rich and the poor pay a similar percentage of their income in property taxes. Sales taxes, on the other hand, are one of the most unfair, or regressive, taxes we have. Which means that it imposes a larger burden on the poor and middle class then it does on the rich. This is not reform or anything of the sort, it’s just another GOP scheme to hurt poor and working Texans, while paying back their wealthy campaign contributors.

If that wasn’t bad enough. Also yesterday Gov. Rick Perry sent one of this staff members to the Senate Finance Committee. Here’s the funny part. They didn’t go to talk about the budget cuts in the governor’s office, but instead to ask for an increase in the governor’s budget budget of $81 million. Via the Texas Observer, Perry: Cuts for Thee But None For Me.

But Wednesday, Perry took things up a notch at the Senate Finance Committee hearings. Well, not Perry himself, but Milton Rister, the director of administration. Rister came before the committee asking for an extra $81.5 million for the Governor’s Office. Perry’s fond of saying that balancing shouldn’t mean raising taxes or spending the Rainy Day Fund, a $9 billion piggy bank the state’s stored up. Instead, he says, it means tough choices.

Well, apparently he wanted to make one choice a little easier. With a $27 billion shortfall, many who rely on government programs are (rightfully) fearing life-altering cuts. I’m just guessing here, but the governor’s requests for an extra $20 million in video game and film incentives might not stack up against the grants that fund all-day pre-k, which are cut from the draft budget. He asks for $50 million to be restored to the Enterprise Fund, which tries to offer cash to companies that relocate to Texas, and perhaps more shockingly, $15 million in additional funds to the Emerging Technology Fund. That’s the same fund the Dallas Morning News largely discredited in a series of investigative stories showing how it favored Perry’s campaign donors and their companies.

The senators weren’t exactly pleased, and Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, said what I imagine would be on most people’s minds.

The Dallas Morning News‘ Bob Garrett transcribed the exchange (bless him!) but the meat of things was pretty simple. “We’re going to be spending millions of dollars on tourism and movie production, but we’re going to be cutting back on Medicaid, letting teachers go, [cutting the Texas] School for the Deaf and autistic children?” Whitmire asked.

Rister stuck to the party line. “The governor has put a priority on bringing jobs to Texas,” he said.

It’s the same line we heard throughout the campaign, but for some reason, I’m not sure that’s going to work this time. After all, it’s hard to miss the steady drumbeat of witnesses entering the Capitol to beg for things more personal than a corporation getting extra money to move to a state that already has low taxes and minimal regulation.

“I don’t think the people of Texas that I represent would understand that,” Whitmire told Rister. I’m not sure there’s much to understand.

Kuff has more, Sacrifice is for the little people. Sen. Ogden had this exchange regarding lack of money for the border in Perrys’ budget.

Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, told Rister he was surprised that border security was not mentioned as one of Perry’s nine priorities for additional budget help.

Rister said the governor’s office was grateful the Senate had allocated $30 million more for border security than did the House and wanted to limit its requests for more. But Ogden made clear that his first priority for the governor’s budget was bolstering border security.

Silly Sen. Ogden, everyone knows Perry only cares about the border when he’s running for reelection.

But what all of this shows is that the GOP only cares about satisfying it’s far right ideology and not doing what is best for Texas. And this also reinforces that Perry cares more for his own pet projects and making sure they get increased funding, then he does for the rest of Texas, as we continue to struggle. That’s life in Perry’s “Texas Century”.

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