Local

House Committee Unanimously Hangs Up on Telephone Tax

The Lone Star Report brings us the following good news:

The House Regulated Industries committee unanimously voted Feb. 21 to tphoneeliminate the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF). The tax on consumers’ phone bill was created in 1995 to help wire schools, libraries and colleges for the Internet. TIF was supposed to end after 10 years or after it raised $1.5 billion, whichever came first. However in 2005, the Legislature removed the tax’s expiration date. Since 2003, the tax was used to fund general revenue and is no longer used for its original purpose.

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.

Lubbock Paper Calls for Surplus to be Returned to Taxpayers

Once in a while the malubbockinstream media hits the nail on the head and such is the case with a staff editorial in today's Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. This piece enclosed below in no uncertain terms urges the Legislature to return the surplus to taxpayers. Further, it points to the folly of simply shifting taxes and argues that rather than raise other taxes to pay for further property tax relief, the Legislature should simply utilize the surplus – the amount by which Texans have overpaid in taxes.

Only in Austin…

Governor Perry had a great line reported in the state's media outlets:
       "Only in Austin and Washington would returning $8 billion to citizens be considered spending."

That's a great point. The state's spending cap was called the "Texas Tax Relief Act," and was supported by an overwhelming vote of the people in a constitutional election. Most Texans probably assumed that if spending was kept under control, their taxes would be as well. It's doubtful any voter thought tax relief could be confused with spending, and it is reasonable to assume that they figured any overage would come back to them and not be used to grow government.

Dewhurst Questions Existence & Return of Surplus, But More Tax Cuts Now Can Help Avert Future Economic Slowdown

dewhurstyoungSpeaking at a Capitol news conference yesterday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said "We don't have a 14.3 billion dollar surplus." He asserted that "when you look at promised property tax cuts out to 2011, we're looking at a balanced budget with just a modest increase in our expenditures." Dewhurst made similar remarks today at the Legislative Budget Board meeting where the LBB set the constitutional spending limit, which based on projected personal income growth, will allow a 13.11 percent increase in general revenue expenditures for the 2008-09 biennium.

Taxpayers vs. Spending Addicts in Abilene

The Abilene Reporter-News has a revealing piece today discussing how Abilene taxpayers support revenue and appraisal caps while local officials are frightened by the prospect.  The most eye-opening quote is:

abileneTaylor County Commissioner Chuck Statler likened the county's situation to his personal budget at home: ''If your expenses continue to increase, why would you want to reduce your income?''

Texas Taxpayer Funded Lobbying & Blogging

The Galveston Daily News reported this month that the board of the Galveston Independent School District voted to pay the Austin consulting firm Moak, Casey & Associates up to $15,000 to lobby the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on their behalf.  The lobbyistspecific purpose of this arrangement is to get TEA to agree to a swap between the money the district will receive to buy down school property taxes and the money they will owe the state in Robin Hood payments.  Suffice it to say, the article states that some questioned why district officials just don't call TEA themselves to find out whether this is feasible.

Sen. Carona would rather do the wrong thing… on taxes?

Sen. Carona would rather do the wrong thing… on taxes?

Sen. CaronaState Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) is quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as saying that he'd rather "something wrong than do nothing." The sad thing is that in this case, the "wrong thing" he'd rather do is raise local taxes to pay for more wasteful mass transit spending, than "do nothing" which apparently includes making local governments squeeze more effiency out of their spending programs.