Thursday, January 12, 2006

Impartial fools

Apparently, the wise and impartial panel, appointed by our good governor of Texas to look at alternatives after the current school finance system was deemed unconstitutional by our state Supreme Court, is looking at allowing localities to raise their sales tax rates to fund schools in lieu of those unconstitutionally-uniform property taxes.

From the SA Express-News:

A special committee looking to change the state's school tax system wants Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn to assess the financial impact of several options, including an increase in local sales tax rates to lower school property taxes.

Now I'm all in favor of lowering school property taxes. It seems as if I pay a considerable chunk on my house to support the local schools, and my house isn't all that fancy.

I know pups who live in very plain, simple structures. They stay(mostly)warm and dry. And their property taxes are relatively low.

It's not as if I needed deluxe accommodations. What I have is entirely adequate for my needs in this climate, and it isn't going to break the bank on taxes. And there's room in the attic to store the seasonal stuff.

Some folks go ahead with an upgrade. They want a little more flash, or a little more space. Those pups pay more than I do. I think that overall scheme is fair. We can complain about the rates, but the system scales so that the more your house is worth, the more you pay.

And then, of course, some pups go nuts.

But every time you bump your house up a notch, it costs more bones in taxes, and a substantial chunk of those taxes go to pay for the local schools, at least they do here in Texas.

A couple of thoughts relating to all of this:

(1) A sales tax is the most regressive of taxes: 6.5 bones extra is nothing if you have more bones than you can count anyway, but if you can carry all your bones with you, 6.5 bones can break a deal.

(2) The Texas state-wide sales tax is at 6.5%. Only California and Mississippi tax sales at higher rates (and California's state-wide rate is actually only 6.25%, but they piggy-back a 1% local tax on it, so the net rate is higher).

So even though something HAS to be done, the sales tax shouldn't even be on the table, I don't care how many layers of paper it's buried under. Someone's laible to see taxing the poorest the hardest as preferable to taxing corporate campaign donors.

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