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Previously, we have posted about the attempts by Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) and Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) to introduce legislation that would allow Texans to vote on the fairness and accountability within our state’s taxing structure. Eight days into the (first) special session of the 79th Legislature and many of our opinions have not changed.
“Good schools are where Teachers know how to teach and love to do it and Students believe they can learn and they do it con ganas!”
— Senator Eliot Shapleigh
Sen. Shapleigh’s presentation of A New Texas: Invest in our kids, invest in our future is delivered with passion, easy to understand, and filled with vital content.
With the elimination of Robin Hood, 867 school districts would lose approximately $230 per student and wealthy districts would gain $1,969 per student.
What is Texas’ Future in 2030? Household income will decline by $5,000 – pulling $60 billion out of the Texas economy. For the first time in our history, the next generation of Texans will be less prosperous than the generation before them.
Shapleigh’s straight-forward approach proves he is not messing around. He will ask you where to cut and what to tax in order to raise enough revenue to cover the giant crater the elimination of Robin Hood would create. More importantly, he is sincere in his message – we all agree every child in Texas deserves a first-rate education rich with great teachers, the latest technology, and challenging course work.
“The system as it stands now is not equitable…with an income tax, most property taxes will go down, even for the rich. And don’t be fooled by the Republican rhetoric against raising taxes… Plans to increase fees are taxes by another name.”
—Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, The Texas Observer, January 31, 2003
Rep. Rodriguez is a rare leader who engages in real dialogue with his constituents. He doesn’t mind delving into the details of any issue or explaining in length HB 33 and HJR 13, which would allow for a voter-approved State Personal Income Tax.
The legislation would abolish the Maintenance & Operation portion of property taxes for all homeowners and remove the possibility of it being reinstated. It also calls for a state-wide vote on the implementation of a low-rate State Personal Income Tax.
A Personal Exemption of $3,200.00 is allowed for every filer and for each dependent declared by that filer. This is the only exemption provided.
On all remaining income the rate of the tax is:
1 % on the 1st $25,000.00
2% on the 2nd $25,000.00
3.5% on the 3rd $25,000.00
5% on the 4th $25,000.00
6.5% on the next $50,000.00
7.0% on the next $50,000.00
7.5% on additional income (all income above $200,000.00)
In a press release last Thursday, Rep. Rodriguez said, “…the total tax on a family of four, with yearly income of $100,000.00, is less than two percent.” That amount would also be deductible on your federal income taxes. Not the case if the Republican leadership has its way with the corporate franchise tax loophole and wage tax, a.k.a. back-door income tax.
A state income tax is a tough sell, but it makes sense. It would give across-the-board tax relief to all Texans while broadening the base of revenue earmarked for education. It would reduce the state’s reliance on property and sales taxes while every taxpayer made a fair investment into the future of Texas. It takes control out of the hands of the Legislature and into the hands of Texas voters.
Sen. Shapleigh and Rep. Rodriguez are the good guys. And their districts have a few things in common – they are largely Hispanic with moderate incomes and one-third of their constituents are high school drop-outs or have never graduated. When these guys talk about taxes, it is clear that they have the best interests of Texans (and not electoral games) at heart.
Spread the word.