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Taxes and fees

The last time a Republican-dominated Legislature got together to deal with a multi-billion dollar deficit, they found many ways to squeeze more money out of the citizenry through more and higher fees, though they later bragged about not raising taxes. You can expect much of the same this year, but if State Rep. Richard Raymond has his way, at least no one will brag about it.

All fees, surcharges and other revenue-raising measures would be classified officially as taxes under a state constitutional amendment proposed today by a veteran House Democrat.

Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, said his “honesty in taxation” measure would prevent politicians — if they peppered taxpayers with higher fees for things like driver’s licenses, hunting licenses and copies of birth certificates — from claiming they balanced Texas’ budget without raising taxes.

“The truth is, if you raise fees, you raise taxes,” said Raymond, vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

Not really clear to me how this will work. I mean, how exactly are you going to stop someone from saying “I didn’t raise your taxes”? Unless there are penalties attached – I can already hear Scott Henson banging his head against a wall at the thought – I don’t see what this will accomplish. It’s good politics, I suppose, though you don’t really need a constitutional amendment for that. A press release from Rep. Raymond is here.

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One Comment

  1. Noel Freeman says:

    This bill clearly demonstrates a lack of basic understanding of the differences between funding mechanisms for public programs. A lot of politicians like to use the terms ‘tax’ and ‘fee’ interchangeably, but they are very different funding mechanisms and always have been since the first user fees were introduced as an alternative to tax-based funding.

    Calling something a tax or mandating that it be called a tax does not make it a tax. This bill is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest.