The State Lege is now halfway through its multi-million dollar boondoggle known as a "Special Session".
The good news is that your hard-earned money has not been spent in vain. Rather it has been spent in finding a way to give progressively more tax relief to richer Texans.
How? By approving House Bill 3.
If HB 3 becomes law, the maximum property tax assessed on property will drop from $1.50 per $100 to $1.23 in 2006 and then to $1.10 in 2007.
Whoopee! Tax relief!
Beware the naked man who offers you the shirt off his back.
If you own property that is valued at $50,000, you will save a whole $135 next year. Meanwhile, someone who owns a nice million dollar mansion will save $1,500.
Pretty neat, huh? Who do you think needs the money more? Let's play a game where we assume you buy a house that is valued at 2.5 times your annual income. That means the $50,000 house belongs to someone who makes $20,000 a year - which works out to around $10 an hour. The million dollar home then belongs to someone who makes $400,000 a year - or around $200 per hour. That's not bad work, when you can find it.
So the working guy, grimy with sweat and sand, gets a cut of eleven dollars and a quarter every month. The guy sitting in his office gets more than two and a half times that per week. So, when the hard-hat crew gets off work, they can have a beer and a half every Friday, thanks to the Republican leadership. Meanwhile, the suit gets a night out on the town with his wife - or whoever he decides to spend his money on.
But of course, you don't get something from nothing. The working guy will pay higher sales taxes, a new tax on auto repairs (hey, a new tax break for shade tree mechanics!), and cigarettes. The rich guy will pay all of that, too - potentially. However, he has more money than month - so some of his money doesn't pay sales taxes at all. His new car doesn't need repairs, either. Smoking, of course, everyone CAN do, but in general, the wealthier you are, the less you smoke. Too busy counting your money, I suppose.
Better yet - wait for it - no additional money is going to education! Isn't that a hoot? Oh man, I'm splitting a gut here! An education bill that doesn't address school funding problems. Only a Republican could do it with a straight face.
Meanwhile, a few blocks away, at the only branch of the Republican government that is forced to deal with reality (sometimes)...
329 school districts have banded together to argue that the maximum tax rate on assessments amounts to an illegal state tax. Oh, cool. Now all that hard work for the "special session" (reference to "special olympics" omitted) may be for naught because if the Justices agree with the schools the whole thing has to start over from square one.
The Republican legal defense is predictably thin and antagonistic towards the Court. They claim the matter is a, "political question that the Texas Constitution assigns to the Texas Legislature and not the courts." In other words, our Solicitor General just looked at the Court and said, "This is none of your business."
Apparently wondering if the Republican Lege was thinking about abbrogating its responsibility to provide an education system, Justice Wainwright asked if maybe that meant the Lege could cut off funding after fourth grade. The Republican Party Line: "Yes."
Maybe that's how they plan to get more money to schools and cut the High School dropout rate. Eliminate High School, and you have no drop-outs. Then you take that money and spend it all on fourth graders...
Rabid conservatism defeats itself!