Texas’ Outspoken Republican Ag Commissioner Sid Miller is taking a “chewing” over his proposal to raise fees associated with his agency’s services. According to Miller, he has to “stop the bleeding,” and this may be the only logical response to his Party’s tax cut-happy governing style.
Rising fees due to dwindling budget appropriations is something that college students have felt for years, but now consumption tax-creep has graduated from the campuses of liberal learning to the pockets of rural Texans and that has conservatives alarmed.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who has rode into office from the Senate on the wave of tax cuts said, “I have called on Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller to put the brakes on these proposed fees increases.” Miller not only rejected Patrick’s call, he blamed the legislature’s budget cuts for forcing his hand. The problem for Miller is that he voted for those tax cuts as a state representative in 2011.
According to the Texas Tribune, the Texas Farm Bureau and 72 legislators have expressed their grievance with Miller over the proposed hikes. Larry Gonzales, a Republican from Round Rock, said Miller was attempting a “gross expansion of government,” which on its surface is laughable since Texas is a rapidly growing state and fees have not been raised since 1996.
This is where the rhetoric of tax cuts meets its illogical end — if you want things, you have to pay for them. Texas has a particularly regressive tax system, but Republicans have always done a fair job of framing government services as handouts to lazy people. On the contrary, the Ag Commission actually plays a critical role in food safety inspection and consumer protection.
From the Tribune:
The agriculture department has a wide range of duties, including checking gas pumps for accuracy, verifying that grocery store scanners work properly, checking that metal scales properly display weights, along with licensing and certifying agricultural products.
Miller says he has spent much of this year tackling a massive backlog of suspected violations and trying to make inspections more efficient after experiencing a rude awakening during his first days in statewide office — lax enforcement that led him to conclude consumers were “getting screwed.”
So the GOP is willing to let consumers get screwed in order to protect their flimsy house of cards? We should take a moment to thank Sid Miller for exposes that voters and taxpayers are also getting screwed. Maybe the next inspection the Ag Commissioner should consider is the snake oil being pedaled by this Party leaders.