Monday, March 7


In their usual dishonest fashion, Texas Republicans are trying to sneak new taxes past the voters:

Texas would have the highest state sales tax in the country, businesses would pay a payroll tax and smokers would pay a dollar more for cigarettes in exchange for a cut in school property taxes under a bill approved Wednesday by a House committee.

The measure, which also includes new taxes on bottled water, auto repair services and car washes, would raise nearly $11 billion over the next two years, all of which would pay for lowering school property taxes by about one-third.
Although many Texans, particularly low-income people, live in rental housing, Keffer said the bill included no requirement that landlords pass through their property tax relief in the form of lower rents.

"The market will prevail," he said.

So who benefits? Big residential and business property owners, who will pay less in school property taxes. Some businesses, such as chemical companies, large manufacturers and electric utilities. And any business that was subject to the franchise tax.

Who loses? Small businesses looking to expand and hire new people. Companies such as retailers that employ large numbers of low-wage workers. Middle- and low-income workers who will pay the highest sales taxes in the nation. Renters. Smokers.

Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick is pushing passage of this bill quickly before voters have a chance to see and understand for themselves how they will be affected by it. The House Ways and Means Committee voted only minutes after seeing the bill, and Craddick would like to ensure passage before the word gets out.

Any legislation that has to be snuck past the people is usually bad for them. But this is a cynical attempt to finance public education by heaping more of the burden on those least able to afford it.


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