The Texas Tribune reports that State Senator Glenn Hegar (R-Harris County), the Republican nominee for Comptroller, is openly advocating for both abolishing the property tax and replacing it solely with a consumption tax. As the stats come out, assuming that Hegar would want the increase in sales tax to completely offset the abolition of the property tax, the new sales tax would end up being between 20 and 25%, compared to a current Statewide rate of 6.25% that often comes out to 8.25% because of municipal surcharges.
The tactics have caused Mike Collier, the Democratic nominee for Comptroller, to gain some traction among the politically observant. Collier has been making the obvious point that a sales tax upwards of 25% is simply unsustainable, and the major cuts in our already no-frills government that would inevitably occur without a major tax hike elsewhere would be simply too devastating for the State to handle. Still, even after going through this bad press, Hegar is not backing down on his inane position. Admittedly, he now has chosen to take the point of view that the tax should be phased out instead of being ripped off like a bandaid, but the position is still misguided nonetheless.
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The following Editorial was written by Noah M. Horwitz and concurred to by George Bailey & Andrew Scott Romo. Olivia Arena dissented from this Editorial, but did not write a response.
The Austin Chronicle recently commented on developments related to the Special Election in House District 50. From what I understand, the three Democratic candidates are desperately trying to outflank one another to the left in the somewhat yuppie district. One of these such issues is taxation. Celia Israel, arguably the most progressive candidate in the race, has come out swinging in favor of a State Income Tax, and has berated her opponents for not doing so.
Texas, of course, is one of nine states without an income tax. The most recent public official to have the untethered temerity to support one was Bob Bullock, the Lieutenant Governor from 1991-1999. Bullock supported the tax, much to the chagrin of then-Governor Ann Richards, who opposed a tax. Richards, most Conservative Democrats and Republicans joined together to push the idea down.
The Texas Constitution (Article 8, Section 24) places some restrictions on possible State Income Taxes. Most notably, any tax must explicitly be approved by the voters. Given that referendums take place in odd-numbered years, where turnout often dips into the single digits, this means that a State Income Tax’s enactment would be extremely unlikely.
But aside from the infeasibility of a State Income Tax’s chances to pass, I would like to talk about why it is bad idea as well.
Continue reading to see Horwitz’s reasoning!