Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."

Where There’s Smoke, There’s A Tax

 

Nothing is worse than having a fire, with no way to put it out. There is a clear public purpose to be served in using tax revenues to fight fires. That's why people can, with a local vote, implement an Emergency Services District. These districts levy property taxes to fund fire, emergency rescue and ambulance services.

But not content with letting local voters decide tax priorities, legislators – led by Rep. Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) – want to add a new tax on all property insurance policies in the state to fund fire protection services (HB2421). So if you and your neighbors have a fire department (full-time or volunteer), which you fully fund and staff, you'll be taxed to pay for people who haven't done so somewhere else.

Just Stop Taking Our Money!

Just Stop Taking Our Money!

In case you missed it, the Texas House this week approved the elimination of the Texas Infrastructure Fund tax. This egregious little tax has been levied on your phone bill for a decade. Everyone agrees the job the TIF tax was levied to do was finished (wire rural...

Open Those Checkbooks

 

Another great open-government bill is HB640 by State Rep. Byran Hughes (R-Mineola). This bill would require that all expenditures by each state agency, be easily available online. The posting would also have to include the purpose of the expenditure. This will let taxpayers see exactly how our money is being spent, track waste and improve efficiency.

This is a great piece of legislation. Every member of the legislature who has promised to "protect taxpayers" should be a cosponsor of HB640.

Texas Spending Commission

 

State Sen. Dan Patrick has introduced legislation (SB1190/SJR41) that creates a government spending commission, similar to one authorized by Ronald Reagan in 1984.  Reagan's Grace Commission made nearly 2,500 recommendations that eliminated more than $420 billion in government waste.  Patrick's "Texas Spending Commission" would have audit authority over all state agencies, seeking eliminate waste, fraud and redundancy.  In a unique turn, the commission's suggested reforms could only be voted up or down by the legislature, but not amended. 

Let The Sunlight Shine

Three right-thinking members of the legislature are recommending that more House and Senate votes be recorded, and therefore subject to public review. State Rep. Dan Branch (R-Dallas), State Rep. Brian McCall (R-Plano), and State Rep. Tony Goolsby (R-Dallas), have filed several pieces of legislation that would mandate more sunlight in the legislative process.

More recorded votes good for taxpayers

The House's State Affairs Committee is expected today to hear testimony regarding a series of bills that would significantly open the legislative process to taxpayer and voter scrutiny. In the past, many important votes have been held as "voice votes," allowing lawmakers the luxurious shield of not having to defend actions that are either unpopular or costly, or both. Requiring the legislature to take more recorded votes is good for Texas' voters, taxpayers and future.

America’s Most Irresponsible

The Drudge Report is today noting that the U.S. Comptroller, David Walker, will tell 60 Minutes on Sunday that Medicare is on a course to bankrupt the United States. He says that the president's prescription drug plan, "is probably the most fiscally irresponsible piece of legislation since the 1960s." Way to go, President Bush. Oh, and all the Republican lackeys who went along with it. Great job, fellas!

How much to keep Hollywood away?

The Austin American Statesman is calling on lawmakers to enact a slush fund that would attract more Hollywood liberals to Texas.

Sprinting To A New Tax

My Sprint cellphone bill arrived today, featuring a brand new fee: The Texas Margin Fee Reimbursement. This is Sprint's attempt to make visible the new business tax implemented by the Texas Legislature last sprint. Some in the legislature are crying foul, but Sprint has the nerve to do what lawmakers usually don't — admit that business taxes are borne by people, not business. Most other businesses won't put the burden of the tax on the bill — but you and I are still paying for it.