Is the Lubbock establishment challenging conservative Rep. Charles Perry because he won’t raise taxes?

This spring Perry was approached by members of the Lubbock chamber of commerce connected with “Imagine Lubbock Together.” They were seeking special legislation to bust the statewide 8.25 cent sales tax cap with a special one cent sales tax for Lubbock. Normally the state imposes a 6.25 cent sales tax and local governments are allowed to share in up to two cents worth of sales tax revenue. Governments being governments, that almost always means that the effective tax rate is 8.25 percent.

If special legislation for Lubbock were to pass, Lubbock would have the highest sales tax in the state, at 9.25 percent. The tax increase was estimated to take $39 million a year out of Lubbock taxpayers’ pockets to benefit politically connected downtown business interests.

The “Imagine Lubbock Together” campaign appears designed to make Lubbock more like Austin, complete with more “urbanization,” more bike lanes, and a fancy new (and expensive) performing arts center. The campaign comes complete with leftist word-smithing. Obviously if you oppose more spending and higher taxes then you are against “togetherness.”

Since Perry is a no-go on the tax increases, the ILT crowd has decided to run one of their own. Enter Steve Massengale.

Massengale is the President of the Lubbock ISD school board and a former President of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce. He formally announced Tuesday that he is challenging Perry for the Republican nomination for State Representative. Massengale has a long connection with “Imagine Lubbock Together.” He was a participant in developing the ILT plan and this summer tweeted his approval of the plan’s contents, calling it a “great report.”

If there were any doubt about Massengale’s position on the tax increase, he dispelled it very quickly during an interview with the local Fox affiliate in Lubbock. When asked about what Perry is doing that he doesn’t agree with, Massengale spoke at length about the tax increase proposal.

“There’s one issue that’s been brought up to me several times. If you will recall, the Imagine Lubbock Together effort was widely participated in across the community and they had some concerns. They had a proposal they put forth to Mr. Perry to ­­– just to ­– carry legislation to allow the citizens of Lubbock to vote on a sales tax – I believe it was a one cent sales tax increase – just to fund downtown redevelopment. Now I’m not here to advocate for or against a sales tax. But what I am here to advocate for is I believe those citizens have a right to vote on their own to decide if they want to make an investment with tax money and that’s something he wouldn’t support.”

Massengale has made it clear that carrying the tax increase legislation is a centerpiece of his candidacy, along with parroting Democrat accusations about Republicans “underfunding” public schools during the 2011 recession.

But Massengale didn’t stop there. He went on to argue that for Lubbock to be better represented they needed someone with “staying power” who will stay in office and “build seniority.” It’s not too often that a candidate for office tacitly admits they’re running so they can be a career politician.

The full interview can be viewed here.

Texans need more principled, effective leaders like Charles Perry in Austin. The tax-raisers in Lubbock might prefer a clone of Ken “I’m the guy that raises taxes” King. But we here at Texans for Fiscal Responsibility believe voters are smarter than that. That’s why we have endorsed Rep. Charles Perry for re-election.

Tony McDonald

Tony McDonald serves as General Counsel to Texas Scorecard. A licensed and practicing attorney, Tony specializes in the areas of civil litigation, legislative lawyering, and non-profit regulatory compliance. Tony resides in Austin with his wife and daughter and attends St. Paul Lutheran Church.