Oh gosh. There we go again. Every time there’s financial trouble, certain group of politicians immediately starts singing that old song of “if only there was an income tax in Texas!”. That it would cure the budget deficit, makes school system less suck-y and bring down the property tax, which is quite high compared to other states. I even heard on NPR that it would “remove that uncertainty from the tax collection”. Now wouldn’t that be something? I thought the property tax was the one that is less fluctuating. If people are loosing their jobs, the tax collections would go down as well.
Um… that “reduction of the property tax” thing… like that will ever happen. Look at California — there’s a shining example of having an income tax and blowing all the money away anyways to a degree of almost complete insolvency (mostly because school system for some reason simply can’t live on the same budget as before, and even if nobody else has a raise this year, teachers deserve more money, plus all the state programs once enacted never ever seem to stop, just grow larger). Somehow they ended up with a system where income tax affects those who make less than $10 000 a year.
The same song about reduction of the property taxes was sung back when new rules were approved for a business tax in Texas. Yes, it actually reduced the property tax tiny bit. But what happened this year? Why, there’s a “raise a property tax” demand right there, so it’d go back to the maximum, allowed by the law. I guess that worked out really well.
And a simple logic allows you to know that it’s nothing but a tax increase — if we are going to believe that idea about paying income tax and getting property tax reduced, then if the total collection is at the same level why should we introduce the income tax. You know, if the promise is kept, I’m still supposed to write the check for the same amount, except part A will be an “income tax” and part B “property tax”. Why not keep part A at zero and part B at where it is right now?
Now guess what will happen to an income tax a year or two after it’s introduced? Of course, it will be raised. Because you have to think of the children and give more money now. It’s like in Alice in Wonderland — you have to run just to stay in place (or keep the educational process from getting worse) or run twice as fast to get somewhere.
My current property tax already mostly goes to the school district (at least 70% of it, as far as I remember). Why is there any doubt that whatever amount of money is available, it’ll simply be blown away again, and we’ll be back to the square one with “Oh gosh, no money left, and teachers need a raise, and the pension and benefits fund just ran out of money again?”
The idea may be dressed into pretty clothes — let’s only tax “the wealthy” (those who earn $150 000 a year or more, in the current reincarnation of the proposal). But that’s what was used for the Alternative Minimum Tax. That, for some reason, now no longer applies to wealthy people, but creeps onto the middle class. Sure, those who barely get by will not care, but for the average mid-class family AMT is getting to be more and more of a headache.
Why nobody wants to cut expenses instead? Why, if salary of teachers is so inadequate, people don’t quit their jobs? People accuse me of complaining too much about everything, and I agree, I do complain a lot. I also try to change things I don’t like. If I think I am being underpaid, I will quit my job and go looking for a better thing to do. Why is the educational system any different? Budget written to be deficit from the beginning, and I presume it’s only done so that any possible additional monetary influx would automatically be assigned from the get-go.
So, I don’t think it’s such a brilliant idea. Right now Texas has an advantage, don’t remove it. Look at all the other states and cities that have property tax, income tax and sales tax and they still have no money in budget. And you know, that this new tax will simply be that — the new tax. More money will be taken away and passed to the special interests.
Try to do a different thing instead — cut the expenses instead.