Conservatives tired of seeing their tax dollars used for subsidizing industries like “green energy” should be thoroughly disappointed with knowing just how many of their legislators supported such programs this session.
Ever heard of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan? Unless you operate heavy equipment or vehicles, you probably haven’t. According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality website, TERP is a program that “provides financial incentives to eligible individuals, businesses, or local governments to reduce emissions from polluting vehicles and equipment”. In other words, they award tax-funded grants to people or businesses to upgrade equipment and vehicles that pollute less.
Now thanks to Senate Bill 20 by Senator Tommy Williams (R – The Woodlands), natural gas vehicles will be added to the program, adding yet another sector of the economy for taxpayers to subsidize.
SB 20 made it through both chambers with relative ease this session, but there were at least a few legislators that recognized the need to stand up against it. Senators Brian Birdwell (R – Grandbury) and Dan Patrick (R – Houston) were the only nays in upper chamber, while Representatives Marva Beck (R – Centerville), Linda Harper-Brown (R – Irving), Jim Landtroop (R – Plainview), Jodie Laubenberg (R – Murphy), George Lavender (R – Texarkana), Ken Paxton (R – McKinney), Charles Perry (R – Lubbock), and David Simpson (R – Longview) were the only voices of reason in the lower chamber.
While it may be a noble idea to clean up the environment with more clean equipment, taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for a very targeted list of eligible recipients. To be eligible to receive any of these grants, a recipient must be in a select list of counties, leaving out a large majority of those who pay their taxes, but can’t benefit from the program. Furthermore, continuing to subsidize certain sectors of the economy like “low emission” vehicles or the natural gas industry only drive up costs artificially, preventing the market from determining its true value. Look no further than subsidizing higher education and the cost of tuition for an example.