I was saddened to see Rep. Harvey Hilderbran go soft on phasing out the state’s horrible business tax known as the margins-tax. Hilderbran, who is chairman of the House Ways & Means committee, appeared on Pratt on Texas at the start of the 83rd Session and was quite hot on the idea of ending, or at least beginning a phase-out, of the tax.

But now, according to his comments reported in the Austin American Statesman, Hilderbran seems to question even the idea that ending the tax would be good for the state’s economy. “I’d love to do that, but you’ve got to show me, in a more empirical way, how that grows the economy and grows revenues,” Hilderbran said about ending the tax. “No one’s done that yet.”

Wow! So he thinks taxing businesses helps the economy?

Hildebran seems to have even abandoned pushing legislation which would begin a slow phase-out of the hated and somewhat capricious tax. He told the Statesman that he’s “focused on fixing inequities in the system and making it simpler.”

And his fixes? “He said he has a bill lowering the rate on the EZ margin tax form and is considering a standard deduction for companies with gross receipts up to $20 million,” the Statesman reported.

I had high hopes for Representative Hilderbran and he got much statewide press prior to the Session for offering bold solutions that are much needed. But I should have remembered that under our system, he owes his chairmanship to one man: Speaker Joe Straus. Straus does much talking about being pro-business but, if he can’t stomach a phase-out one of the worst business taxes in the nation then I believe that he’s a fraud even on that front.

Pratt on Texas

Robert Pratt has been active in Texas Republican politics since the Reagan re-elect in 1984. He has served as Lubbock County Republican chairman, and in 2006 founded the Pratt on Texas radio network, providing the news and commentary of Texas on both radio and podcast. Learn more at www.PrattonTexas.com.