In a report on the status of tax relief efforts, the Wall Street Journal today applauded the work of Arkansas, South Carolinia, and Florida. Missing completely from the mix? Texas.
The WSJ headline says it all: “Some States, Flush With Cash, Are Sending Money to Taxpayers.”
Texas is similarly flush with cash – more flush, even – yet Republican lawmakers are taking a decidedly weaker approach. We’re missing from the WSJ report because Texas lawmakers have apparently decided in 2019 to prioritize big spending over bold relief.
As it stands today, any notion of meaningful Texas-sized tax relief is being dwarfed by actual big-spending packages to grow government. The only thing taxpayers might get is a reform in which the property tax will only be allowed to increase 2.5 percent annually. And reports from Capitol sources indicate the House and Senate GOP leadership are entertaining pushes to abandon the 2.5 percent number. Big spending, no relief, and going wobbly on reforms…? Not a good look.
An endless parade of Texas Republicans can be found on Fox News self-righteously beating their chests regularly about the conservative bona fides of the Lone Star State. Yet when it comes to tax relief in 2019, the Texas Legislature’s approach is being outshined by the Mickey Mouse state.
Texas’ state song describes the Lone Star State as the “boldest and grandest, withstanding every test.”
Unless that test involves tax relief. In which case, we’re just better than Illinois and New Jersey. Despite bank accounts billowing with the taxpayers’ cash, Texas Republicans are rushing to grow old programs and create entirely new spending categories.
It wasn’t that long ago when any report in the WSJ about pro-taxpayer initiatives around the country didn’t just mention Texas, but led with Texas. Heck, Texas would muscle its way into the articles. Unfortunately, Texas politicians can trade on the state’s boisterous self-promotion from a decade ago for only so long. The future doesn’t belong to the status quo. That we’re not mentioned in an article about state tax relief efforts should be a wake-up call for Texans. Taxpayers must start now demanding meaningful, tangible, visible tax relief before the clock runs out on the legislative session at the end of May.
But maybe Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, and the Republican caucuses of the House and Senate are okay with playing second fiddle to Arkansas, South Carolina, and Florida. Maybe their political consultants think being less bold will make GOP officials more palatable to suburban Democrats.
And maybe the base of conservative activists who make up the GOP’s check-writing, block-walking, door-knocking, phone-banking army of volunteers will decide “less bold” isn’t worth their time in 2020.