Kevin Eltife – known best in Austin for his desire to raise taxes – is back at it, clamoring for more spending while bashing conservatives in the process. This time, he caught the attention of liberal bloggers who were quick to praise him.
A perennially sub-par performer on the Fiscal Responsibility Index, Eltife has long lobbied for more spending on the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) during his time in office, despite case after case of frivolous spending within the agency tasked with building and maintaining our state’s system of highways.
Lashing out at conservatives, Eltife demonstrated that he failed to learn from the humiliating defeat of his Senate district neighbor to the West, liberal Republican Bob Deuell by a conservative challenger. Eltife blames conservatives for increasing the state’s debt burden because of a refusal to raise taxes.
Just recently, Eltife mockingly decried calls for limited government and fiscal restraint, telling the Longview News-Journal, “It’s real easy to run on, ‘We just need to cut spending, and we don’t need any new taxes,’[…]”
Ignoring the history of state budgets consistently loaded with waste, Eltife later doubled-down on his familiar exhortation: raise taxes.
Lamenting the broken state of TxDOT, Sen. Eltife displayed his lack of understanding on the real problems of the agency by conflating the institutional incompetence of department leadership with the agency’s alleged funding challenges.
A common attitude among many liberal-leaning legislators, Eltife seems to believe that simply throwing money at any given problem will fix it, as if every sector of government is running at peak efficiency.
Criticizing the use of debt to fund transportation projects, Sen. Eltife attributed the practice to conservatives, even though he voted in favor of S.J.R. 64—which became Proposition 12—a measure allocating bond debt to fund TxDOT in 2007.
Eltife claimed his tax increase would pay-down debt at the state level, returning to pay-as-you-go budgeting (referred to in the shorthand as “Pay-Go”). Though paying-down debt and Pay-Go budgeting are noble aims, it seems Eltife abandoned this conviction last session when it came to his vote for more debt in the form of House Bill 4, the state’s newest revenue bond scheme for water projects. Eltife also voted in favor of a bloated state budget that massively increased state spending, including raiding billions from the state’s savings account.
Unfortunately for voters in Senate District 1, Eltife will not be on the ballot until 2016. Perhaps this is why he is so honest in revealing his disdain for many of the beliefs of his own constituents.
When asked about the unpopularity of his default “raise taxes” approach, Eltife is quoted as saying, “I was fine before I had this job, If they kick me out of office, I’ll be fine.” Given his carefree stance toward retaining his office, one is left to wonder if he is this out-of-touch with his constituents on purpose.
There were some fans of Eltife’s conservative bashing. A progressive blog praised Eltife’s statements as “standing up to the radical, tea party [sic] nonsense that’s overtaken the Republican party [sic].”
Sen. Eltife’s constituents would be wise to remember those words as we approach the upcoming legislative session – and keep the pressure on him until sine die.