In the recently famous words of Prime Minister Netanyahu, “No deal is better than a bad deal.” Unfortunately, our Legislature appears to be headed headlong into what I consider a bad deal for Texas. Both our Governor and Lt. Governor made glorious campaign promises to cut taxes. While it is a noble goal, the proposals currently being touted in Austin would be a bad deal for the future of Texas. It would be like the head of a household, whose children are poorly clothed and poorly fed, taking a big portion of his income and donating it to his fraternity. Even though his fraternity may do good works, and his donation gives him status and standing with his fraternity brothers, he’s not doing the right thing for the needs of his family.
Reportedly, the total tax savings to a median-income Texan would be about $200 a year. Personally, I would gladly pay $200 a year to be assured my grandchildren would receive a first class education here in the Lone Star State. Senator Eltife of Tyler was the sole Republican to vote against the recent appropriations bill which allegedly gives Texas homeowners a $200 a year tax break at a cost to the state of 4 billion dollars. Senator Eltife correctly pointed out that we should first take care of the primary obligations of the state, the most important of which is restoring public education to an adequate level to prepare Texas students to be a part of a productive economy and workforce.
School districts in Texas are now receiving about $500 less per student than they were 4 years ago. If Texas, one of the fastest growing states in the nation, is to keep pace with a vibrant, growing economy, it is absolutely essential that we have a prepared, educated workforce--not necessarily all college graduates, but young people with a good grasp on the basic principles of math, science and the ability to effectively communicate. Clearly, money alone is not the answer, but a quality education system cannot become a reality without adequate funding.
Not only this Legislature but also past Legislatures have given too much attention to smoke and mirror games to make it appear they are giving priority to the needs of the State along with trying to show they have prioritized their campaign promises. Unfortunately, the smoke and mirrors do not mean progress in our state. A good example is a current boast emanating from the Legislature that the people have been saved once again by legislation which will constitutionally prohibit a tax on real estate transactions. What is not said is that Texas does not have, nor has it ever had, a tax on real estate transactions. Many other states require a tax stamp indicating the value of the real estate transaction to be affixed to deeds when filed for record with the county filing agency. I suppose, we, the taxpayers, are supposed to find great comfort in protection from a tax no one has proposed, nor has the Legislature ever seriously considered. It reminds me of politicians in Texas who have been saving us from a state income tax which is constitutionally prohibited in our state.
It seems penny-wise and pound-foolish for our Legislature to jump through hoops to give the average homeowner a $200 a year break while our highways and bridges are crumbling, our state buildings are shamefully in need of repair, the cost of higher education is going out the ceiling, and Texas has more uninsured people needing health care than any state in the union.
Scripture tells us that where the leaders have no vision the people perish. I doubt seriously that mistakes of our Legislature will cause us to all perish. However, there is a real chance the quality of our future will be seriously diminished if our leaders do not use vision for the future in place of politics during this Session.