Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has a simple plan for the coming legislative session: spend more, on a lot. Tax relief? Nowhere in his plans.
WOAI radio reported that House Speaker Joe Straus told the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce that the legislature should spend expected surplus dollars on “big decisions, because the money is there to fund those projects.”
“We have faced the challenges that came with economic hard times,” said Straus, according to WOAI. “Now is the time for us to face the challenges that come with economic success.”
Apparently those “challenges” don’t include keeping government on a diet so taxpayers can get a break. Indeed, Mr. Straus has been dismissive of the comprehensive budget reforms proposed by Gov. Rick Perry and supported by conservatives.
In fact, Straus’ only hint at tax reform came by saying he wants to make changes in the state’s business tax to “to benefit manufacturers.”
Unfortunately, Mr. Straus and his leadership team even refused to allow hearings on bills just to make the small business exemption to the margins tax permanent. They’ve also refused to have hearings on taxpayer protections like a super-majority to raise taxes or to implementing a stronger spending limit.
Mr. Straus’ rent-seeking lobby allies are pushing hard for bigger government. Bill Hammond, the head of the Texas Association of Business, wants the state to spend big, also. He recently proposed increasing fees on vehicle registration and create new fees on water. Hammond and TAB are also pushing for taxpayers to be forced to subsidize Hollywood through expanded “incentive” programs.
Why is TAB pushing for new fees and bigger subsidy programs? Follow the money…
The positions of Mr. Straus and Mr. Hammond run counter to the wishes of Texans. A recent poll of Texas voters by the national polling firm of Wilson Perkins Associates found that 61 percent oppose new taxes and 68 percent want to end all corporate subsidies. Almost 60 percent want to eliminate the mandates on school district operations.
For Mr. Straus, big spending with other people’s money is his way forward in the next legislative session. That’s why tea party activists, Republican leaders and conservative voters are hoping lawmakers will replace him come January.