What does a political promise go for? What real value should we place on the promises of elected officials?

Remember the Texas Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund tax? It was implemented back in the 1990s to fund high-speed internet wiring of rural schools, hospitals and the like. A specific project, set to raise specific money, and then the tax was supposed to die.

It should have died in 2003, but didn’t. It should have died in 2005, but didn’t. This Session, the House unanimously passed a bill to kill the tax on September 1, 2007. The state’s lieutenant governor didn’t want to kill it, and the legislation stalled in the Senate. Even the San Antonio Express-News editors were shocked that Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and the Senate weren’t going along with such a commonsense action.

As you know, the TIF was finally eliminated – but only after Lt. Gov. Dewhurst and Senate angled for a “compromise” that lets them to take the money from you for another year. The lesson? A health skepticism of political promises, especially when it comes to our money, is well earned.

While most people in elected office don’t usually intend to lie, sometimes the process (and allure) of spending other people’s money is just too attractive to keep previous promises.

Taxpayers — and the marketplace — do a lot better job of allocating resources than politicians ever will.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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