Typically, those seeking a win in Texas’ Republican primaries do their best to show voters how conservative they are. However, one state House hopeful is trying to win support by talking about all of the revenue government can generate via a nifty new tax on water bottles.

Baytown City Councilman Terry Sain has made his ambitions known: he wants to be the state representative for House District 128, a seat currently held by freshman State Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park). By many accounts, Cain has solidified himself as one of the most conservative state representatives in Texas on both social and fiscal issues.

Apparently that isn’t good enough for Sain, who launched his challenge to Cain last month saying, “Today, I start my campaign to hear your concerns, earn your trust, and show you that your support will never be taken for granted.”

“As our region is in the middle of massive growth, I want to focus on developing smarter, long-term infrastructure initiative, investing in our local schools and community colleges, helping our businesses create and preserve jobs, and making sure that state government is part of the solution, not the problem,” continued Sain.

As per Sain’s words, one way he will “help business and preserve jobs” is by promising to use the power of the position he is seeking to add a new tax on Texans.

“I have been looking at what could be done to help improve our tax base here, rather than relying strictly on property taxes,” said Sain during Baytown’s proposed 2017-2018 budget meeting. “That bottle of water right there is not taxed. How much water in this town is bought? And how much tax could be generated if the legislature would impose tax on bottled water? That’s something I intend to fully look at, pursue when I get to Austin as the State Representative for this area.”

Spoken like a true big-government “Republican.” If Sain thinks the answer is to tax more rather than spend less, perhaps he should consider running in the Democrat primary instead.

While Sain says his interest is more tax revenue, his personal political agenda may be steering some of his policy. Sain has served as the manager of the Environmental, Health, and Safety Department of LCY Elastomers LP, a petrochemical company, for over 20 years. He is also a member of environmental organizations like the Texas Association of Environmental Professionals.

Liberals have long supported this type of policy because they see it as an environmental, social, and economic win – though it is none of those things. There is no difference between Sain’s progressive proposal and that of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg who pushed a tax on large-size sodas. Democrats in Chicago and Washington State have also taken to squeezing more out of their taxpayers by passing water bottle taxes.

Bottled water taxes are worse than soda taxes because water is a necessity, one that becomes critical during times of emergency, which Texas’ Gulf Coast knows all too well.

Also, a tax on bottled water unfairly targets the elderly, young, those with weakened immune systems, and those with poor filtration who rely solely on bottled water. Just last year, residents in Baytown stormed a community meeting with concerns over their water coming out of the faucet “dark coffee brown color.”

Many felt they were being contaminated by the San Jacinto River. While they were there to complain about the state of their water, some complained of the economic burden that was imposing on them. ABC 13 reported at the time, “Brandi Gourley says she can’t afford to purchase bottled water, but saves up enough money to do so anyway.”

Any primary challenger seeking to increase existing taxes, or levy new ones, should concern Texas voters who currently shoulder one of the highest overall tax burdens in the country. Taxpayers need relief, not tariffs imposed on the very essence of life.

Charles Blain

Charles Blain is the president of Urban Reform and Urban Reform Institute. A native of New Jersey, he is based in Houston and writes on municipal finance and other urban issues.

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