Now we know what Bill White was doing while ducking President Obama’s visit: he and his fellow Democrats were busily preparing to promote a scheme that would simultaneously stall Texas’ rebounding economy and grow government. Meanwhile, the state’s House transportation committee chairman (a Democrat favors raising gas-taxes statewide.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee White, breaking with his campaign style of not actually talking about specific public policy recommendations, told the pro-tax lobby firm, also known as the Fort Worth Star Telegram, this week he supports letting cities and counties raise gasoline taxes, hike fees and dump even more money into wildly inefficient boondoggle programs.

But in a classic Bill White duck-and-cover move, the Star-Telegram said he also “qualified the answer by saying he would have to talk to lawmakers from both sides of an issue before supporting a specific bill.”

Translation: he wants the higher taxes, but regrets you might now find out before November.

An attempt to impose this patchwork tax-scheme was rejected by a bipartisan majority last session, and the legislative cheerleaders have been forced to acknowledge their tax scheme is dead on arrival in 2011.

But then, as the Los Angeles Times blog noted, Bill White is so “unsuccessfully” running that he won’t make it to the 2011 legislative session, either. It’s of note that Mr. White offered his support for hiking taxes and grounding the economy the day after avoiding Barack “I Made The National Recession Worse” Obama.

Quick refresher: the plan Bill White is now supporting isn’t so much a “plan” as it is a way for big-spenders to build superhighways into your wallet. While claiming to want more money for transportation, White and his local liberal lapdogs would use the new local taxes the way they currently do: pad wasteful spending and grow patronage programs.

(Of course, Bill White knows something about pointing lucrative contracts to former and future business associates.)

As you might expect, local governments have been adamantly opposed to spending transparency. And true to form, Bill White apparently wouldn’t require any new transparency or accountability. Just more spending.

In the Bill White tax-for-boondoggle plan, there is predictably no requirement that transportation dollars be used to actually, you know, enhance transportation — improve mobility, reduce congestion, or anything of the like. He would just grow government.

Then there is Joe Pickett (D-El Paso), who said this week he wants to raise the gasoline tax statewide. Mr. Pickett is chairman of the House transportation committee, a post he was appointed to by Republican Speaker Joe Straus of San Antonio. (Straus says he’s against new taxes, but his committee chair is pushing for them. We’ll see how that goes for Mr. Pickett…)

The White-Pickett tax-hike scheme is a sure-fire way to stall out Texas’ economic engine. By making it more expensive to move goods and people from point to point, these two would throw dirt in Texas’ gas tank.

Rather than solve legitimate transportation troubles, Bill White’s tax-hike plan would exacerbate them. Under the scheme he and his allies are promoting, Texas’ transportation system would be both more expensive and less efficient.


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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