Thousands of Texans are supporting efforts to abolish the school property tax and replace it with a fair sales tax… But you’d never know it from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal today, which not only misrepresents the effort and its background, but lets Republican State Sen. Robert Duncan talk about imposing a new state income tax.

Yep, that’s right. State Sen. Robert Duncan of Lubbock told the A-J that “We are very regressive with our sales tax because we don’t have an income tax.” Apparently the senator has either been misquoted (a distinct possibility when it comes to modern journalism) or he is sorely mis-educated.

Income taxes are inherently regressive — penalizing people for work and investment; the two things you need to have a growing economy. Indeed, in every state that has an income tax the poor pay far MORE in taxes than the poor pay in Texas. Unemployment is higher in income tax states, and job growth is lower.

Income taxes breed regressivity and economic pain. The data is incontrovertible. Likewise, its property taxes that force low-income, retired Texans to sell their homes and reduce their standard of living. Business taxes, we know, also are inherently regressive — forcing small businesses to cut pay, cut jobs and raise prices.

Sales taxes, on the other hand, are inherently fair — because you are only taxed on what you buy. (In Texas we don’t — and shouldn’t ever — tax basic food or medicine, which could be harmful to the poor.)

State Rep. Joe Heflin (D-Crosbtyton) likewise demonstrates his lack of economic acumen when he says, “It’s a regressive tax to me… It would hurt mostly the poor and the middle class who spend a big chunk of their income paying for goods and services.”

Right, Joe — use those feelings to make policy. And all those rich people don’t consume goods and services; they live in shacks with the cash shoved in a mattress and eat wild berries.

These loons actually think they are speaking truth to power. In fact, they are merely parroting ignorance to their lefty comrades.

As is often the case with the Lubbock “newspaper,” the article manages to mangle just about every fact in the story.

First, the effort to replace property taxes is being supported by thousands of Texans — not just the few lawmakers who are willing to author the legislation. Sign the petition!

Second, the article mis-reports previous efforts. Here is how intrepid A-J reporter Enrique Rangel gets reality wrong:
In the 2003 session, when the Legislature had a $10 billion shortfall, Rep. Talmadge Heflin, R-Houston, then chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, tried to include the proposal as an amendment to a bill. But it was killed on the House floor… Talmadge Heflin lost re-election the following year.

Mr. Heflin introduced the legislation only once, in 1997, not 2003. He was soundly RE-ELECTED three times after proposing the legislation. In 2003 Heflin was too busy cutting the budget and bridging a $10 billion shortfall as chairman of the House Appropriations Committee to campaign, let alone propose a new tax structure.

But reporters rarely let facts get in the way of a political agenda. You know, like trying to shove an income tax down our throats.

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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