April 13, 2004
Special session called

No turning back now, as Governor Perry has made the call for a special session to start on Tuesday, April 20. (See, I was right that it wouldn't be for the 19th.) What happens from here is anyone's guess, but do keep these things in mind:

The governor has proposed cuts in local school property taxes to be replaced by new state revenue sources, including a higher cigarette tax, video lottery terminals at racetracks and on Indian reservations, a new $5 state tax on admissions to adult entertainment clubs and closing a loophole in the state franchise tax.

He also has proposed a new statewide tax on business property that has drawn widespread opposition from the business community, which fears being taxed at a higher rate than residential property. The statewide business tax and the expanded gambling would have tough hills to climb in the Legislature because each would require constitutional amendments approved by two-thirds of the House and the Senate. They also would have to be approved by Texas voters.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and much of the Senate, meanwhile, are working on a competing plan, which would trade lower school property taxes for a broad-based business activity tax.

"I don't think there is any consensus at this time," said Bill Hammond, president of the Texas Association of Business, which generally supports the governor on major issues but opposes the statewide business property tax.

Anything that requires a two-thirds vote of the House requires at least 12 Democrats to vote for it. None of them, save for maybe Ron Wilson, will feel any compunction to be accomodating. Same thing in the Senate, where at least two Democrats would have to cross over to a Perry plan instead of a Dewhurst plan. And of course House Speaker Tom Craddick has kept his cards close to his chest. This ought to be a doozy.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 13, 2004 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

maybe the Dems would be willing to cooperate with Perry, if Craddick and the GOP would rescind their redistricting legislation

Posted by: bz on April 13, 2004 5:49 PM

That'll happen about five seconds after "New York, New York" is adopted as the official state song. :-)

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 13, 2004 8:11 PM

This whole special session thing is a real puzzlement to me. Surely our Guv has more political savvy than to call a special session that will result in complete indecision and gridlock, doesn't he? Yet, the so-called "consensus" that he has waited (and waited) for all these months isn't even close to being reality. Clearly, the Legislature and the lobbyists have not bought into his two-tiered assessment roll, or his adult entertainment / video lottery taxes. This is politics in the age of Jerry Falwell and Grover Norquist - hating sin and government and using one to stamp out the other.

Perry isn't likely to budge on more substantive taxes and his "solutions" are laughably inadequate. So, once again, what's the point?

Posted by: Dennis on April 14, 2004 4:11 PM