Surplus For Tax Relief?

When legislators come back into session in January, they could have more than $4 billion surplus revenues with which to play. And if history is a guide, they will spend every last penny, and then some, growing government.

That’s what Joe Straus and his merry band of liberal-leaning Republicans have consistently rammed through the legislature with the help of Democrats the last couple of years. Last Session, the Wall Street Journal lamented that Dewhurst, Straus & Co. grew state government 25 percent. In one session! (More than 30 conservatives voted against the boondoggle-laden budget.)

The nice folks at the Texas Public Policy Foundation have put together a plan to take those surplus dollars away from the spenders and put it back in the taxpayers’ wallets.

They call it the “STAR Fund” — the Sales Tax Relief Fund. In a conference call yesterday with the media, State Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) described the problem with surpluses like the change left over when making a purchase. No business keeps the change and calls it a surplus, they give it back.

In the same way, the state’s surplus represents an over-collection of taxes beyond the budget need.

As I reported for Breitbart Texas yesterday:

The Sales Tax Relief Fund, or “STAR” Fund, would allow the state’s comptroller to take surplus dollars flowing into the state coffers and adjust the sales tax rate downward for a two-year period. The proposal would call for the comptroller to use the dollars from the fund to make up the “lost revenues” from the temporary tax reduction, said Chuck DeVore, TPPF’s vice president for policy.

Once the STAR Fund revenues were expended, the sales tax rate would go back to 6.25 percent until it was replenished by new surpluses.

TPPF economist Vance Ginn told reporters on a conference call today that the expected surplus could be used to reduce the state’s sales tax from the current 6.25 percent to 5.75 percent for a two-year period.

The STAR Fund deserves serious consideration. We know it will get it from the state senate, where Birdwell has already agreed to move it forward.

And in the House? Well, Joe Straus and his crew have refused to move ANY legislation limiting the growth of government or providing relief for taxpayers.

So if your legislator isn’t actively working against Straus’ re-coronation as speaker, your legislator is working against meaningful tax relief and spending reform.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael is president and CEO of Empower Texans, and its premier project, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility. A graduate of Texas A&M, former newspaper reporter, one-time Capital Hill staffer, think tank vice president and an Eagle Scout, Sullivan is married with three children. He divides his time between the Metroplex, the rest of Texas, and Austin.

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