The Tyler Morning Paper published an editorial today that rings true both literally and as a figure of speech.

The article addresses The Universal Service Fund or USF and the need to examine its worthiness. The “fund” aka corporate subsidy is a surcharge that appears on your monthly phone bill, collected to ensure that phone service is provided to rural areas of the state.

Here, instead of allowing the market to find rural areas the state has burdened tax payers and businesses unequally across the state stifling competition and undoubtedly wasting tax dollars in the process. What’s more, this tax is now outdated. With higher levels of urbanization, technology and deregulation the amount of money collected is out-pacing need.

We had a similar tax in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund (TIF) up until the most recent legislative session. The TIF tax was collected to outfit schools and libraries with internet access but after the task was completed the state continued to collect the tax. Empower Texans worked with thousands of citizens calling on the Legislature to abolish the tax, which they did.

Lawmakers should do more than study tax-reduction ideas, as the title of the editorial suggests, they should act on what they find and listen to the demands of their constituents. There have to be continued efforts to eliminate and/or lessen the burden of taxes like the USF and TIF if we are increase the bandwidth of our state’s economy.

Daniel Greer

Daniel Greer is the Director of Innovation for Texas Scorecard.

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