Indicating their true attitude towards tax relief, Texas House leadership this session actually went out of their way to remove a tax cut from a bill already passed by the Senate. Even worse, the tax cut they reversed was one of nine wasteful taxes identified by Comptroller Glenn Hegar.
In a press release dated February 26th, 2015 Hegar targeted a number of taxes as targets for repeal, stating, “The resources needed to administer these tax laws should be redeployed to ensure Texans are getting the best possible government at the lowest possible cost, rather than maintaining red tape and regulation unnecessarily burdening business owners.”
SB 752 by State Sen. Paul Bettencourt (R–Houston), as originally passed by the Senate, would have repealed two of those wasteful taxes – the inheritance tax and the “combative sports admissions tax.” The latter stipulates that 3% tax of gross receipts from the sale of tickets to combative sports events plus 3% of gross receipts from the sale of broadcast rights or $30,000, whichever is less, must be paid to the state when an event is held.
The legislation passed the Senate on March 25th, and was referred to the House Ways & Means Committee on April 30th, where it was substituted for a nearly identical version. However, the provision repealing the combative sports admission tax was stripped from the bill.
State Rep. Jim Murphy (R–Houston) authored a House companion that, when referred to the same committee in the House, received the exact same treatment. At that time, it was explained in committee that the bureaucrats at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation considered the tax “necessary,” despite the Comptroller’s assessment that the tax was costing the state more revenue to collect than the revenue it generated.
The House companion was placed on the general calendar once it was stripped of the combative sports provision. It was postponed repeatedly, and ultimately past sine die, effectively killing the bill.
It’s baffling that the coalition government of Democrats and liberal Republicans who control the Texas House under Speaker Joe Straus (R – San Antonio), when requested by the Comptroller, actually went out of their way to continue collecting a tax identified as too wasteful to justify. It’s even more baffling when you consider that the path forward was greased in that the Senate had already passed the legislation.
Whose interest was House leadership looking out for when they failed to pass such a no-brainer tax repeal? It certainly wasn’t taxpayers.