Tuesday, October 11, 2005

They Won't Even Discuss It

The Republicans Have A Big Problem. They have no plan other than raising taxes on the poor and the middle class and cutting services to the poor and middle class to attain their supposed school finance reform/property tax reduction goals. The plan, which is really just the defunding of our public schools and lowering taxes on the wealthy, it's class warfare at it's heart. Yeah I said it, class warfare. I personally believe that every option should be put on the table. And when I say every option, I mean every option, including a state income tax. We can see a microcosm of how the income tax debate has been playing out recently by two articles in the Express-News this week. It all started with this article on Saturday, State income tax favorable to some but unlikely, about Sen. Eliot Shapleigh's visit to the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). While there he presented his plan for the adoption of a personal income tax in Texas to fix the school finance/property tax problem in our state. It was this quote from the article that stirred up a response:
"How can we have a debate in the state of Texas when one option that will lower property taxes by 90 percent, pay for certified teachers in the classroom and provide a great early education system can't even be on the table?" Shapleigh said.
Seems like a reasonable question to me. That's something no Republican plan has been able to even come close to on the governor's number one goal. Well it doesn't seem reasonable to Roddy Stinson, Students swallow income tax baloney served by Sen. Shapleigh:
"Income tax" has been on the Texas discussion table for decades. And state taxpayers have repeatedly examined it and determined that such promises as "lower property taxes" and "a better education system" are siren songs warbled by politicians skilled at waving yummy tax carrots while hiding very large spending sticks.
First I don't think an income tax has been seriously discussed since at least 1993 and we can speculate if it ever was. Second Mr. Stinson says many things in his column but nowhere does he refute Sen. Shapleigh's argument for an income tax. Instead we get this:
A personal income tax has been examined many times by Texans. It has been repeatedly rejected as a viable state-funding alternative. And there is zero chance that the anti-tax sentiment will change.

Every Austin insider privately says so.

Every credible political analyst agrees.

Even most of Babylon on the Colorado's slugabeds have figured it out.

Texas taxpayers don't want an income tax.

Texas legislators won't support an income tax.

And any serious candidate for a statewide office who even winks at an income tax will soon become a losing candidate.
I take issue with a couple of those statements. As I said earlier, I don't believe that in Texas an income tax has ever been fully debated. (You can go here to see there didn't seem to be much debate time spent on it in 1993). I think it's just always been a forgone conclusion in this state - and its never been challenged - that nobody wants one. I mean, if you ask someone, "Do you want a tax on your income?", what do you think they will say? Ask them, "How about a modest income tax and your property tax goes down 90%?", I'll be you get a different answer. When presented with the facts about an income tax most people react positively. Because it's fair and hits everyone the same, it's a progressive tax. That is the reason it's never been debated, fairness - if you poor you pay, middle class you pay and yes, the rich have to pay too. The Republicans and people like Mr. Stinson are afraid of an income tax getting a fair hearing because it would change people's minds. The inability of our current state leader's to fix this problem may already be doing this. He ignores these numbers from a poll done in Texas last month:
The poll shows that Texans are almost equally divided over whether a state income tax should be levied to pay for public schools.

Forty-five percent said they would support an income tax if it reduced property taxes and the revenue funded public schools. Forty-seven percent said that they oppose an income tax.
That's pretty much a 50/50 split. I also think that many on the "inside" are starting to realize that an income tax is the only thing that will fix our current problem. Mr. Stinson is correct when he says that no politician would admit this in public, for fear of their political lives. The other thing he makes clear is that we do not have a leader, or leaders for that matter, excluding Sen. Shapliegh, in the state that will speak the truth to the people of Texas and stick their neck out to do what needs to be done to fix this problem. Again, Mr. Stinson never refutes Sen. Shapliegh's assertions, he just tries to do the old he's a liberal, has ties to Hollywood and liberal groups, and of course the tired he's for taxes line. But the same could be said of Perry, Dehwhurst and Craddick, et al. They are all tied to every right-wing, anti-tax, anti-government group there is and he has no problem with that.

The point of all of this is an income tax is a viable option and the more these failed leaders show their inability to raise taxes on anyone other than the poor and the middle class - and especially not on those that contribute to their campaigns - the more attractive and income tax will become to the people of Texas. Mr. Stinson cannot attack an income tax on it's merits and that is why he is attacking the messenger.

Sen. Shapliegh should be given credit for being out front on this issue. He and Rep. Eddie Rodriguez are the only ones that have come out in support of this. There is something wrong, when every other option has been looked at and the problem still isn't fixed and there is a fair, viable option available and the leaders of this state won't even discuss it.

For more on this check out this post from The Jeffersonian.

Check out Sen. Shapleigh's The A, B, C's of School Finance.

For how a state income tax could work check out The Best Choice for a Prosperous Texas from the Center for Public Policy Priorities.


At 10/14/2005 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Average IQ of Hong Kong/China: 107
Average IQ of Korea, Japan, Singapore 105
Average IQ of EU, USA, Canada: 100
Average IQ of People who voted for Bush: 94
Average IQ of Kentucky: 92
Average IQ of George W Bush: 91
Average IQ of South Asia, North Africa, Latin America, and Mississippi: 85
Average IQ of Sub-Sahara Africa and Caribean: 70


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