May 01, 2005
Beer drinkers and tax raisers

Yesterday's Chron noted that the Senate Education Committee approved a school finance reform plan which (as previously noted) include a less-ambitious property tax cut than they first hoped for. Buried deep in the story is this disquieting bit:

Senators continued to struggle to write a tax bill to pay for the property tax cuts and new school spending. Some Democratic senators have balked at proposals to raise the state sales tax while Republicans are splitting over a new business tax.

[Sen. Kyle] Janek said he supports higher sales taxes but isn't yet sold on a business tax. The tax bill, which also is expected to include higher cigarette and alcohol taxes, is scheduled to be debated next week in the Senate Finance Committee.

Houtopia has some trenchant comments about this, but my purpose here is to note that while the Senate doesn't have its act together, the forces that will oppose certain parts of their plan do. You may have noticed the big full-page ad in the sports section of today's Chron railing against an increase in beer taxes (see their website, which descends from efforts elsewhere). Now, I'm a beer drinker, but I'll admit to being agnostic on the question of whether Texans already pay too high a tax on their brewskis. (According to this story, it's eleven cents per six-pack; I presume the bulk of the burden they refer to is from a federal levy.)

I have to admit, I had hoped for better from the Senate. The plan they proposed for school finance in 2003, while not what I would have chosen, was at least serious about ensuring that the tax burden was spread around to as many people as possible. They seem to have backed off of that approach, however, and so we just get more of the let's-tax-this-or-that-subgroup approach, where beer, cigarettes, lap dances, bottled water, boat sales, haircuts, and assorted other disjointed items get singled out. Which of course makes it easier for these picked-upon subgroups to challenge the proposed levies against them as being unfair.

I guess I could still be wrong, since they're still working on the actual package. I doubt it, though, and as such I'll bet we'll be right back in this position next time around. Nice going, folks.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 01, 2005 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack

Brew your own beer and they can't tax it.

Posted by: Colorado Luis on May 1, 2005 10:01 PM