January 29, 2007
Rebate this!

Let me see if I've got this straight. The budget surplus isn't as big as we thought it might have been. Thanks to our obsessive desire to feed the property tax cut beast, we've got $2.5 billion in unallocated money for $4 billion worth of priorities. The ballyhooed business tax, centerpiece to Governor Perry's plan to reform school finance reduce property taxes, is riddled with loopholes that will likely have negative repercussions for future revenue collection, which in turn will put even more strain on the budget as we try to pay for future property tax reductions.

And amid all that, Governor Perry is actually talking about tax rebates? Is he nuts?

Gov. Rick Perry thinks lawmakers should be allowed to rebate money directly to taxpayers, but the check is far from being in the mail.

Legislative leaders, miles short of embracing the idea, are concerned about the state's ability to make good on already-promised school property tax relief and other obligations, despite billions in projected new revenue. Some wonder how rebates could be fairly calculated.

Asked what he thinks about the rebate idea, which Perry declared an emergency item more than two weeks ago, Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, replied, "Not much."

"The big issue to me in this session is to make sure that we set aside enough of the surplus to guarantee that we'll be able to meet our property tax promises in future years," Ogden said.

I'm at a loss for words. All I can say is that I hope something that resembles sanity prevails; fortunately, that seems to be the case here. I wouldn't have thought that the full-on property tax cut could have been a lesser of two evils choice in any context this session, but clearly I was wrong. Clearly, I wasn't cynical enough.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on January 29, 2007 to Budget ballyhoo