Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hey, What About That 800 Pound Gorilla Over There?

Well this past week we saw broad agreement on how to plug that $4 billion hole in the 2011-2012 Texas state budget. It took some doing, but people finally saw that letting the state workforce decrease by several hundred thousand through mass layoffs because of budget cutting was simply not an option anyone wanted to consider anymore.

So part of the hole, they decided, could be filled with the Rainy Day Fund, and the rest would have to be made in those budget cuts that will still mean job losses.

Lots of self-congratulatory back slaps handed around. All that’s left is the vote, and how to divvy up a whole lot of “found money” – 3.1 billion dollars to be exact.

But wait. What about the fact that year two in this biennial budget is still a monstrous $23 billion short? If you can’t or won’t do spending cuts, how the heck is the 2012-2013 budget going to get balanced?

What about that 800 pound gorilla that is still sitting in the living room?

Clearly, cuts won’t solve the problem. Clearly the state doesn’t collect enough revenue in order for it to carry out necessary services. Clearly, the state’s revenue collection strategy must be reformed.

But when you listen for all of the verbiage on getting this done, all you hear are crickets.

No one is willing to talk about this, it seems. But at some point someone is going to have to move that gorilla or the gorilla will start doing what it does best: throw its feces around the living room.

Except for Republican State Senator Steve Ogden. Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Ogden has given this a little thought and has even weighed in, in the press.

“Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, said legislators should consider a constitutional amendment that would clarify that an income tax could be assessed on corporations but not individuals.”

“The objective would be to use the corporate income tax to replace the current franchise tax that is considered unfair by many businesses.”

“‘Even if you lose your shirt, you still may be liable for paying the business tax because it isn’t an income tax,’ Ogden said. ‘That business tax is a mess.’”
And it also doesn’t pay the bills, does it?

But I don’t know if it will fly. Voters will be easily fooled when corporations flood 5 major media markets with advertisements telling Texans why voting for corporate income tax is a bad, bad idea. They will have to lie in order to deliver that message, and mark my words, the bigger the lie, the more convinced voters will be.

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