According to the Houston Chronicle, "Gov. Rick Perry proposed a $1.6 billion cut in the state business tax Monday."
Well, isn't that nice. This is the business revenue tax that was pushed by Perry and other Republicans (and Democrats) in 2006 as a way of generating more tax income for the state of Texas. At the time, it was claimed that it would reduce people's property taxes. Of course, property taxes are now higher than ever.
As usual, the tax cut isn't matched by any particular spending cuts. So it looks like a typical effort to score some votes by "taxing the future" instead of the present.
Wouldn't it be nice if politicians like Rick Perry spent more time coming up with spending cuts? But no, that might be unpopular.
Libertarians have proven to be brave about spending cuts, whether they're popular or not. Let's get some Libertarians elected to office.
The Dallas Morning News reports on the formula used to calculate pension annuities for Texas legislators.
Did you even know that Texas legislators get pensions? And the more times they get re-elected, the bigger the pension!
The article says, "...a 20-year lawmaker could take a 2.3 percent per year service credit for each year he or she has served. The pension would equal 46 percent of $125,000, or $57,500."
Texas legislators often complain about their low salary, just a few thousand dollars a year. But those pensions sweeten the deal quite a bit. Especially when you consider that the legislative sessions only last a few months out of each two-year period.
There is no good reason for legislators to collect taxpayer-funded pensions. Libertarian legislators would vote to get rid of them.
30 to 1 to push for school bonds
The Austin American-Statesman reports that a pro-school-bond group has raised $30,000 to push for $900 million in additional public school debt for the Austin Independent School District. Opponents have raised less than $1,000.
It's a perfect example of dispersed costs and concentrated benefits. The public school contractors and employees who benefit from the taxpayer-financed bonds have a huge incentive to push voters to approve them. Average property taxpayers won't notice a big difference, so they don't have much incentive to organize against the bonds.
But over time, it adds up. Austin ISD currently spends over $100 million a year on debt service.
Texas public schools have way too much money at their disposal. As long as we have public schools, that's how it will be. Libertarians support ending government financing and control of schools.
Elon Musk of Tesla Motors has been lobbying the Texas legislature to let him sell directly to consumers. Texas law currently requires car manufacturers to use a middleman (a car dealership).
Naturally, the Texas Automobile Dealers Association disagrees. They would rather not risk losing their government-guaranteed spot in the food chain.
A statement by Republican State Senator Craig Estes, who supports Musk, is quite humorous: "The design and the engineering on these new cars is really impressive. At the end of the day, if they want to sell them through the Internet and at shopping malls –- in my opinion what’s wrong with that? It’s called the free market, free enterprise."
Free enterprise? An electric carmaker that receives huge government subsidies, both directly and through taxpayer-financed customer rebates? Maybe Elon Musk should also be lobbying for the termination of his subsidies.
Sadly, car manufacture and sales in Texas (and America) are the opposite of free enterprise.
The Texas Tribune reports that two Texas Republicans in Congress have filed legislation to push for more "border security."
The article says the bill would "mandate that agents on the border set a goal of apprehending 90 percent of the people who enter the country illegally."
The fixation on "border security" is a great excuse for continuing anti-immigration policies. Conservatives often say things like "We can't open up immigration until we secure the border." That creates a nice catch-22 that helps preserve bad laws motivated by protectionism and often xenophobia.
Liberals often secretly oppose immigration too, because of their alliance with protectionist labor unions.
Here's the upshot: American employers should be able to hire whoever they want, regardless of what country the person was born in.
Unfortunately our laws usually prohibit that, so American employers often hire foreigners illegally. It turns out to be a good thing that they do: productive workers are helpful, not harmful, to our economy. But we'd all be better off if they could hire foreigners legally and openly.
It's time to re-legalize immigration. Let's elect Libertarians who will do that.
The San Antonio Express-News reports, "Texas' top three lawmakers have collected more than $3.6 million in contributions from donors affiliated with companies that received millions in grants from a state incentive program."
That program, the Texas Enterprise Fund, is opposed by Libertarians as a corporate welfare slush fund that burdens taxpayers, distorts the market, and leads to corruption.
According to Texas Governor Rick Perry's office, "The Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) provides the state's leaders with a 'deal closing fund' that has the flexibility and financial resources to help strengthen the state’s economy."
Two problems with that claim:
1. Politicians shouldn't be referred to as "leaders."
2. Corporate welfare doesn't strengthen the economy, it only distorts the economy. The welfare requires higher taxes, and that makes Texas less attractive to every other business in the world.
Let's get some Libertarians elected and terminate the Texas Enterprise Fund.
Give us them federal dollars
According to the Texas Tribune, "If Texas spends roughly $15 billion to expand Medicaid over the next ten years, the state could receive up to $100 billion from the federal government."
That's the kind of devil's bargain that unconstitutional federal benefit programs often lead to. If Texas state government agrees to tax its own people $15 billion, then the federal government promises to tax the rest of America $100 billion.
Republicans and Democrats both want to get their hands on "free" federal money. So it will be surprising if Texas legislators don't find a way to work something out with the Obama administration.
But Libertarians have always spoken against programs like Medicaid. Providing benefits to people is not a proper function of government.
Let's get government out of health care, and we won't have to worry about these nasty devil's bargains.
No school vouchers for you
The Austin American-Statesman reports that the Republican-controlled Texas House voted strongly yesterday against allowing government-funded private school vouchers in Texas.
Libertarians don't always agree on this issue. Some Libertarians are afraid that government money will corrupt private schools. Other Libertarians think that anything to reduce the monopoly power of public schools would be an improvement.
Regardless of your view on school vouchers, it's obvious that the Democrats and Republicans in the Texas legislature are completely beholden to the powerful education-industrial complex. They should reduce state spending on education, and they should reduce the power of local public school districts to tax and spend -- but don't hold your breath.
Libertarian legislators would work to get government out of education, and return it to the private sector where it belongs.
The Dallas Morning News reports that Republicans and Democrats on a Texas Senate committee have joined hands to restrict payday lending.
These legislators believe that Texas grownups are too stupid to understand what they're doing, so the government should prohibit them from making deals they might regret later. That's exactly what government should NOT be doing.
Taking out a payday loan is probably a bad idea for most people. If your credit is that bad, you probably should do more saving and less borrowing. But human beings have rights, and one of those rights is to make a deal, wise or unwise.
Legislators should work to secure our rights, not prevent us from exercising them. Let's elect Libertarian legislators who will do just that.