Well, that didn’t take long. The new chairman of the House Public Education Committee, a close ally of moderate Speaker Joe Straus, said today he wants to raise Texans’ taxes. He called it “bravery.” Texans call it something else.
One has to wonder why State Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, the chairman of Public Ed, wants to saddle Texans with higher taxes and put the brakes on the state’s economy. Perhaps it’s because 25 percent of all gasoline taxes flow into public education. The other 75 percent is deposited into “Fund 006”, the State Highway Fund, where agencies such as the Department of Public Safety, Texas Education Agency, and State Office of Administrative Hearings receive even more diversions.
House Public Education Chairman Jimmie Don Aycock
Speaking at a Rice University forum, the Houston Chronicle breathlessly reported that Aycock “was ready to break from party orthodoxy and support an increase in the gasoline tax”:
Aycock said he knew supporting a tax increase could be political suicide but “sometimes you’ve got to face reality.”
Mr. Aycock is right that raising the gas tax is akin to political suicide since Texans know it’s a bad deal. Just ask the last House committee chair who pushed for higher taxes over spending reform, former State Rep. Vicki Truitt. (Emphasis on “former”).
One has to wonder if a back-room fight is brewing within House leadership on the issue. House Transportation Committee chairman, Larry Phillips of Sherman, has said there isn’t support in the House for raising taxes. Of course, Mr. Aycock and Speaker Straus could still push the issue to a floor vote anyway.
The reality is that Texas has a broken spending system. Raising the inefficient gasoline tax to fund an inefficient transportation system would be like throwing sand in the engine of the state’s economy.