I'm going to return to a theme for a minute here. Take a look at this bit from Gardner Selby's piece on why the special session was good for Governor Perry, where Selby discusses the potential downside.
No matter how often Perry stresses tax cuts, he'll also be held responsible for billions of dollars in tax increases (on businesses, cigarettes and used-car sales). Critics such as Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn, challenging Perry for governor, will paint him a fiscal fool.
She has ammo: Legislative advisers estimate the new taxes will raise $2.5 billion less each year than what's needed to pay for the tax cuts, leaving future lawmakers to hunt other state funds or cut from the budget - or (gulp) raise taxes again.
The efforts of Texans for No Taxes, chaired by Steven Hotze and Norman Adams, has been strongest in Houston, in no small part because of the assistance of radio-station-owner-turned-senator Dan Patrick. Last night, the Harris County Republican Partypassed a resolution that called on Perry to veto the state's new business tax, calling it "an end-run around the Texas Constitution's prohibition against a state income tax." Out of 470+ precinct chairs in Harris County, only 1 voted against the veto resolution.
Texans for No Taxes issued its own statement, threatening to take "a long hard look at other candidates" if Perry could not be swayed from the support of his tax proposal.
"Gov. Perry has stated that he does not care about the Harris County Republican Party's opposition to his business tax because he takes our support for granted. He doesn't think that we have anywhere to go," said Hotze. "The governor should take a step back and listen to his conservative base, which helped him get elected. Perry needs to remember who brought him to the dance. This vote clearly demonstrates that there will be political fallout for the governor unless he vetoes HB 3. Harris County accounts for the largest Republican voting block in the state."
Hotze also told QR that the Harris County Republican Party resolution will be circulated to all of the other county chairs in the state as well as businesses that will find themselves new taxpayers. He and his allies will seek to insert a plank in the State Republican Party Platform opposing the Margins Tax.
The state party convention will be in San Antonio in early June.
Asked to defend his decision to conservatives who might vote for another candidate, Perry said that much of it came down to communication. Once constituents contacted his office - and were fully informed by both the business tax and the tax cuts in the bill - most understood and even supported the efforts of the state.
The one thing that Hotze could do that might have an impact is to urge his followers to not vote in November, or at least to not vote in any race that features a Republican incumbent or candidate who supported HB3. He's currently hinting at that.
Hotze said there will be "political fallout" for the governor if he doesn't veto the business tax.
He said Perry and the Republican-controlled Legislature have so alienated the conservative base of the party that many voters will stay home in November.
"I think the Republicans will be hit hard this season, and they're going to deserve every lick they get," he said.
Hotze wouldn't say whom he will vote for in the governor's race, adding, "Voters have an opportunity there to make a choice."
In less than 20 days, Perry is going to sign HB3 into law, and at that point it's put up or shut up time for the Hotze crowd. Either endorse another candidate, overlooking all of the places where you and that candidate are a bad fit, declare definitively that you will sit this election out and let the chips fall where they may, or sit down and be quiet because your threats have no meaning. Believe me when I say that no development in politics would please me more than for one of the first two options (especially #2) to come to pass. But until I see some action, it's all just talk.Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 17, 2006 to Budget ballyhoo | TrackBack