Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Political Mistake of the Week

It is only Tuesday but it safe to Say that Perry will win this week. For a guy who is running an aggressive campaign for Governor he is doing some very silly things.

First, DON'T raise taxes when you are running for office! The San Antonio Express News has Perry's plan to fund Texas schools.
Lawmakers convened for another stab at overhauling school funding today, as Gov. Rick Perry unveiled a plan to lower school property taxes, raise sales and cigarette taxes and close an escape hatch in the business tax.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he supported closing the loopholes but wanted to go further to achieve a broad-based, low-rate business tax. House Speaker Tom Craddick said full-fledged business tax reform would be needed. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also said the Senate would be reluctant to raise the sales tax as much as Perry proposed.

House Democrats plan to push a separate plan they say is superior because it would give teachers a $4,000 pay raise over two years and deliver bigger school property tax cuts.

Their plan would drop the maximum school property tax rate from $1.50 per $100 to $1.25 per $100, in addition to increasing the homestead tax exemption to $45,000, up from $15,000 today.

Under the Democrats' proposal, that value would drop to $41,000 for tax purposes, with a school property tax bill of $512.50, or a $46 monthly savings.

Lawmakers also face a threat of schools being unable to open, since Perry vetoed the $33.6 billion that legislators budgeted for schools next year.

Some lawmakers, however, called Perry's threat hollow because of a provision in the appropriation bill directing any savings from line-item vetoes to stay in the budget for the Legislative Budget Board to reallocate.

In that case, the 10-member board, consisting of the House speaker, lieutenant governor and eight legislators, could distribute the $33 billion for schools if legislators once again cannot agree on a plan.

"Basically, there's no courage here, because they can fail, and there's no consequence," said Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston.

Republican Rep. Frank Corte, R-San Antonio, said different constituents have different priorities.

"Some folks want property tax relief and don't agree with putting more money into education, as we've had to do," Corte said. "Others want us to put more money into education and could care less about property tax relief."

Okay, that was long! All in all, the sales tax increase will disproportionately affect the poor and minorities of Texas and specifically San Antonio. Ironically, Corte takes no stance on this issue... as always.

I know what you are thinking though, prove it. Lucky for all of us the Express-News did some number crunching too.
Local communities can add up to 2 cents on the dollar, which would bring the total sales tax rate for many Texans to 8.95 cents per dollar, making it one of the highest in the country. In addition, Perry's plan would increase cigarette taxes by $1 a pack.

The $7 billion property tax might not produce a hefty savings for most San Antonio homeowners. A rate of $1.20 would save $17.55 monthly for a San Antonio resident with a home valued at the median of $86,000. But additional state taxes would wipe out some of the savings.

San Antonio's delegation is being very vocal for once.
Some San Antonio lawmakers are heading back to Austin after getting an earful from voters back home.

The median San Antonio home valued at $86,000 has a school property tax bill now of $1,065 for maintenance and operations.

Rep. Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said he's also heard a fair amount from constituents.

"Everyone wants their property taxes cut. There is total consensus on that," Straus said. "How you arrive at what the formulas would be where you're not harming the economy, that's the tough part."

Rep. Robert Puente, D-San Antonio, said proposed changes in school funding plans that died last month actually would have caused most of his constituents to pay more in overall taxes.

Honestly it sounds like there is a group out there organized and lobbying aggressively to create a more equitable plan. It also sounds like there could easily be backlash for both Perry and the Republican majority. This will be an interesting special session because of all the political ramifications for 2006.

In the end if you disagree and think this is just good stewardship, then just know that Perry made this humorous statement too.


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