The past few weeks in the Texas Legislature marked some of the first divisions between Republican lawmakers.
In the Senate last Tuesday, Dan Patrick held a press conference taking credit for the Senate’s plan to cut $4.6 billion in taxes that will be taken from the property and franchise taxes.
Sounds great right? Wrong. So what’s wrong with tax cuts? Well first the San Antonio Express News makes a pretty strong case that Texas should address its growing list of needs first (like transportation, debt, schools, pensions, and water infrastructure) before we even think about cutting taxes. But the Tea Party controlled Senate is not primarily focused on addressing the very real and growing needs of the state.
But let’s pretend for a minute that this is the right time to cut taxes for Texans. Here’s the problem: having the state try to cut a local tax like the property tax is the quintessential definition of local control succumbing to big government. Big dysfunctional government brought to you by Texas Tea Party and Senate leader Dan Patrick.
No doubt there are all kinds of issues that come up with this kind of fix. Another problem is the Texas Legislature is only treating a symptom of the problem and not addressing the actual problem. As if they were being any more short sighted than you thought possible with the whole treating a local problem with a statewide solution thing.
The actual problem of higher property taxes and small businesses being gouged disproportionately by the franchise tax is due to the fact that Republican lawmakers have not fully funded public education in Texas for over ten years. By and large property values (your taxes) are going up in cities with massive growth and appraisal districts are having to keep up with local budgets with continually strained resources because of a lack of public school funding from the state.
The Republican dominated Texas Legislature has been choking off funding for local municipalities since Republicans took control of all three facets of your state government in 2003. So one way lawmakers can actually treat the problem of your rising taxes would be to fully fund Texas public schools – as opposed to what they are actually doing, which is cutting off their own state revenues to fund those schools.
As far as the actual nitty gritty of this tax cut goes Texas Monthly’s R.G. Ratcliffe does a pretty thorough job explaining what is so problematic with this particular Senate tax proposal.
Property taxes and the franchise tax are two of the only things right now in the state funding Texas schools and these are the two things that Republican (Tea Party) lawmakers want to cut. This tax cut scenario that Dan Patrick is bulldozing through the Senate right now is quite simply a recipe for disaster for public schools. It’s no wonder these Republicans are for charter schools, they really have no
interest business in seeing public schools succeed.
So where are the divisions within the party? I leave you with a quote from Republican Senator Kevin Eltife (from the San Antonio Express-News editorial):
“You’ve got pensions, you’ve got water, you’ve got transportation, we’re in the courthouse over public education,” he said in that article by Fikac. “I want to see that we meet these needs before we talk about tax cuts.”