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Patrick Gleason

Gov. Perry Rises to the Occasion and Protects TX Taxpayers


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Friday, March 13th, 2009, 6:00 PM PERMALINK


Americans for Tax Reform, today, announced strong support for Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to reject $555 million in federal dollars that Texas would have received as part of the $787 billion stimulus bill signed into law by President Barack Obama last month.

 
The $555 million that Perry declined to accept was earmarked for purposes of expanding unemployment benefits in Texas. Accepting the $555 million would force the state to alter the current methodology by which employment insurance eligibility is granted. Eligibility would even extend to part-time workers under the strings attached to the federal stimulus funds.
 
“Gov. Perry has, in rejecting these federal dollars, demonstrated tremendous leadership in defending Lone Star State taxpayers,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “As one example of the ill-advised conditions attached to these funds – someone who voluntarily quits a job in another state, in order to follow a spouse to TX, would be eligible for unemployment benefits in TX. Even worse, Texas families, employers, and all taxpayers would be charged with footing the bill. Americans for Tax Reform praises Gov. Perry’s move to prevent this from happening.”
 
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, as well, has rejected federal stimulus dollars for precisely the same reasons as Gov. Perry. It is estimated that that federal funds would cover expanded unemployment spending for seven years. Once this one-time injection of federal funds runs out, the state would be on the hook for paying for these ramped up benefits.
 
“President Obama is trying to export the failed policies of Michigan, California, and New Jersey, which have left those state fiscally and economically devastated, to states that have governed responsibly and lived within their means like Texas.” continued Norquist. “Lone Star State Taxpayers owe a debt of gratitude to Gov. Perry for standing up to this and saying ‘no, thank you’ to this assault on their hard earned dollars.

 

 

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Tax Threats Loom Large on Golden State Horizon - Again


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Friday, March 13th, 2009, 4:08 PM PERMALINK


They're baaaack - calls for tax hikes in California that is.  Last month all California Democrats and 6 Republicans passed a budget that imposed the largest state tax increase in U.S history on Golden State taxpayers.

But now it seems, according the legislature's budget analyst, Mac Taylor, that the state is still going to out spend its means by $8 billion - shocker.

Taylor was quoted in today's Sacramento Bee saying the following:

"Even in the few weeks since the budget was signed, there have been a series of negative developments. Our updated revenue forecast projects that revenues will fall short of the assumptions in the budget package by $8 billion. Consequently, the Legislature and governor will need to adopt billions of dollars in additional solutions in the coming months to bring the 2009-10 budget back into balance."

California legislators don't seem to comprehend one of the few things that economists of all political stripes agree on - raising taxes during a recession is disastrous policy.  Furthermore, the deleterious effect caused by doing so is exacerbated by the fact that the state had the highest tax rates even before the increases signed into law last month (click here for ATR's commentary in the Sacramento Bee on that agreement).

As ill-advised as it may be - in terms of both policy and politics - smart money is on California Democrats coming back to demand more tax increases. The stage may finally be set for a serious taxpayer revolt in the Golden State.

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Arizona Spending Interests<br> Sit on a Throne of Lies


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Friday, March 6th, 2009, 11:54 AM PERMALINK


Only two days after Gov. Jan Brewer proposed billions of dollars in tax hikes in the midst of a recession, cheerleaders for tax increases in the Grand Canyon State have begun spreading misinformation.

Gov. Jan Brewer and 30 Arizona lawmakers have signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is a written promise to oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes. Make no mistake, this is a committment that elected officials make to their constituents, not Grover Norquist or Americans for Tax Reform. 

Anyone who claims otherwise is either misinformed or lying.  Need proof?  Just look at the language of the Pledge which can be seen by clicking here.

Click "Read More" to see the statement that Americans for Tax Reform sent to all Arizona media yesterday and click here for a pdf version.

 

Gov. Jan Brewer Proposes Billions in Tax Increases
Taxpayer Group Announces Opposition to Brewer’s Proposal
 
Washington, D.C. – Today, Americans for Tax Reform condemned Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s plans to impose billions of dollars in new taxes on Arizona families and employers. In 2006, Governor Brewer signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge - a written promise to her constituents to “oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes.”
 
Gov. Brewer proposed raising taxes on Arizonans by $1 billion per year for up to 3 years. 30 Arizona legislators have made a written pledge to not raise taxes. Any tax hike proposal in Arizona must garner a two-thirds supermajority vote in both chambers in order to become law.
 
“The last thing you want to do in a recession is raise taxes.  Brewer’s proposal will do little more than hurt Arizona families, destroy jobs and encourage businesses to relocate across state lines,” said Grover Norquist, Presidents of Americans for Tax Reform. “Temporary tax hikes are about as prevalent in nature as unicorns. If you use a land line phone then you are still paying the ‘temporary’ tax hike put in place in 1898 to fund Spanish-American War.
 
According to the Center for Fiscal Accountability, Arizona taxpayers already spend 194 days – more than half the year – working just to pay the cost of government. Furthermore, many Arizona taxpayers are already wondering how they will cope if President Barack Obama’s budget – which contains more than $1 trillion in tax hikes over the next 10 years – is put into law.
 
“Arizona does not have a budget deficit. It has an overspending problem. Since 2004, Arizona’s spending grew by an astounding 57 percent.  Now Arizona is paying the price for years of mismanagement and fiscal vandalism under former Gov. Napolitano.” added Norquist. “As recently as 2006, Gov. Brewer made a written pledge to her constituents to oppose any and all efforts to increase taxes. It is unfortunate that Gov. Brewer has decided not to maintain this commitment as governor where she has the opportunity to enact necessary and meaningful reforms.  Some elected officials view taxpayers, rather than spending interests, as their constituents. Americans for Tax Reform commends those elected officials like Sens. Pamela Gorman (R-Anthem), Barbara Leff (R-Paradise Valley), and Ron Gould (R-Lake Havasu), who work for taxpayers rather than against them.”

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Tax Threats Loom Large in Arizona


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, March 4th, 2009, 7:09 PM PERMALINK


Arizona Governor Jan Brewer will deliver a speech on the House floor tonight and Grand Canyon State taxpayers are on pins and needles. 

Rumors have been circulating around the state house today that Gov. Brewer will propose some form of tax increase.  No confirmation yet as to whether she will propose a direct tax increase or propose putting a tax hike on the ballot.

Either proposal would be a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.  A written commitment that she and 30 other AZ lawmakers made to their constituents to oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes.

It's never a good time to raise taxes but doing so in the middle of an economic downturn would be devastating for Arizona families and employers.  Furthermore, Arizona taxpayers already spend 194 days, well over half of the year, just paying for the cost of their government.

It should also be noted that Congressman Jeff Flake and former AZ Gov. Fife Symington recently sent a letter to all 90 AZ lawmakers informing them that tax hikes are not the solution to the state's overspending problem, which they call "an unprecedented financial disaster."

Let's hope AZ Pledge signers will uphold this commitment.  Click here to view Gov. Brewer's signed Pledge.

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South Carolina Speaker Provides Lesson in How Not to Brand Your Party


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009, 1:00 AM PERMALINK


House Bill 3584 was recently introduced by South Carolina Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston). This bill, if passed, would result in a 714% increase in the state's tobacco tax. Ouch.

ATR vehemently opposes this legislation for a number of reasons.  First, this bill would levy a massive tax hike on South Carolinians in the midst of an economic downturn.  What's worse, its impact would be felt predominantly by those least able to afford it. On average, smokers, whose median income is a little more than $36,000, make about 30 percent less than non-smokers.

Furthermore, Obama just signed a 156 percent increase the federal excise tax on smokes into law.  Yet somehow lawmakers in SC believe it wise to pile on with their own increase.

The one good part of this bill is that it provides a credit for health insurance to eligible South Carolinians, presumably to offset the tax hike. However the bill includes no language that applies this credit to income tax liability, making this credit not so much a credit, but rather simply a government outlay.

So all together Harrell's bill entails nothing more than a tax and spending increase - no thank you.

Politicians seem unable to learn that cigarettes are a dubious and declining source of revenue. Here are a couple of fun facts for those scoring at home:

1) New Jersey raised the cigarette tax 17.5 cents in 2007.  They expected to bring in an additional $30 million, but the state ended up losing $24 million in total tax revenue from tobacco.

2) Maryland doubled the cigarette tax to $2 last year and cigarette sales dropped 25%, hitting expected tax revenue.

This bill is bad policy and a clear violation fo the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Gov. Sanford and 13 members of the South Carolina Senate have signed the Pledge, as have 31 House members.  

HB 3584 currently sits in the House Ways & Means Committee awaiting consideration. ATR encourages South Carolina taxpayers to call their representatives and/or Speaker Harrell to voice their opposition. Harrell can be reached at 843-572-1500.

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Texas Politicians Seek More Money While Lone Star State Families Cut Back


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Monday, March 2nd, 2009, 5:00 AM PERMALINK


While Texans are celebrating the Lone Star State's Independence Day, lawmakers in Austin are busy pushing legislation to zap a little more purchasing power from Texas families, as if the economic downturn hadn't already done enough.

HB 9 & SB 855, introduced by Rep. Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) and Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas) would, if passed, allow local officials to put both tax and fee increases on the ballot in the state's most populous counties. 

Americans for Tax Reform opposes this legislation on principle. The fact that lawmakers want to take more hard earned income from taxpayers at a time when families across the state are cutting back in the midst of the current ecomomic downturn displays a problematic disconnect with reality.

Furthermore, a vote for this legislation is a violation of the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which has been signed by 4 members of the Texas Senate and 29 House members.

Not only could this legislation result in a 24 percent gas tax increase, that tax hike would be indexed for inflation, effectively putting future tax increases on autopilot. Local options taxes such as this provide no option to taxpayers whatsoever. Putting both a tax hike and a tax cut on the ballot - now there is a real choice.

Revenue derived from the proposed tax increase would be directed toward transit projects, mostly rail. Commuter rail has produced dubious results in terms of ridership and cost effectiveness.  Commuter rail costs $12-$20 million per square mile. Adding additional lanes on to an existing freeway costs $4-$6 million.  Light rail comes in at a whopping $50-$60 million per square mile, again with subpar ridership.  You do the math.  Additionally, rail system construction is very energy intensive and studies have shown the environmental impact to be neutral.

It is important to find alternatives that don't take Texas taxpayers to the cleaners. Viable and pro-growth alternatives include the following:

1) End the gas tax diversion to education and other ventures not related to education. Revenue derived from this tax should go toward transportation. Furthermore, the current gas tax rate generates sufficient revenue.

2) Implement a competitive bidding process for transportation projects. Nearly 90% of engineering contracts for roads are implemented without any competition or second opinion. When this happens, it is the taxpayers who suffer.

Texans already spend 186 days out of the year just to pay for the cost of their government. ATR urges lawmakers to not pile on with further tax hikes, especially during economic contraction.

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Arizona Lawmakers Talk Taxes


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, February 25th, 2009, 9:54 PM PERMALINK


Good news for taxpayers in the Grand Canyon State - a legislative panel in the Arizona state house recently approved a bill that would permanenty repeal the state property tax, saving Arizona families and employers from the $250 million tax hike that they are currently staring down the barrel of.

The state property tax was suspended 3 years ago but is slated to come back this year.  The bill, sponsored by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert), was approved in committee by a 5-3 vote split down party lines. 

Americans for Tax Reform supports this legislation and urges the Arizona Senate to move forward with its version of the bill. This bill will prevent Arizonans from being hit with a massive tax hike in the midst of a recession and encourage job creation and investment.  Arizona is currently at a competitve disadvantage compared to neighboring states in many corporate tax rates, severely hampering the state's ability to attract jobs and investment.  As it stands, Arizona's commercial property tax is the highest in the region and 5th highest nationally.

But wait...Arizona taxpayers should hold off on breaking out the champagne and celebrating because a bill introduced by Rep. Tom Chabin (D-Flagstaff) will make that champagne much more expensive.  Chabin's bill, HB 2524, would levy additional $3.50/ gallon in taxes on all alcoholic beverages.  This represents a 116% tax increase on distilled spirits and a mind boggling 2,185% increase on beer - OUCH!

This economy is driving many people to drink.  Unfortunately if Chabin's bill passes, some Arizonans might not be able to afford that drink. The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on the matter this week but was not brought to a vote.

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Now That's What I Call Stimulus


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009, 4:58 PM PERMALINK


Lawmakers in Atlanta are proving Texas legislators aren't the only ones pursuing a pro-taxpayer agenda.  Two bills under consideration in Georgia would go a long way toward jump starting the Peach State economy and putting the state's nearly 400,000 unemployed residents back to work. 

Georgia House Bills 481 and 482 seek to make the state more economically competitive.  The legislative package, dubbed the Job, Opportunity and Business Success Act of 2009, was recently introduced by Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger). 

The package represents a pro-growth stimulus package that stands in stark contrast to the stimulus plan passed in Washington.  Rather than ramp up spending and inject the government into nearly every facet of the economy like the federal stimulus package, Rep. Grave's plan involves no taxpayer money and boosts the economy by getting the government out of the way.

Key provisions of the plans are as follows:

- Complete phase out of the state corporate income tax over a 12 year span starting in 2012.

- Elimination of the state inventory tax.

The few states that have inventory taxes have been getting rid of them in recent years.  Georgia is now one of only 13 states to levy this economically adverse tax.  In fact, none of Georgia's neighboring states have an inventory tax.  Graves' plan will remove this competitive disadvantage.  Home to the country's 3rd biggest port and the world's busiest airport, Georgia is often referred to as the logistics capitol of the south.  Elimination of the inventory tax will ensure that Georgia remains a major hub of commerce in the world.

- Suspension of the $100 business filing fee for one year.  This exemption would apply to new filings for LLC's, Limited Partnerships, and For Profict Companies.  Additionally this package contains provisions that reward employers who create jobs. 

Rep. Graves' stimulus package has been well received in the state's other legislative chamber.  Senate Majoirty Leader Chip Rogers summed it up best:

"While the politicians in Washington, D.C., attempt to bankrupt our children and grandchildren through a socalled stimulus plan, we here in Georgia will lead the way on fiscal restraint and creating an environment where businesses want to set up shot."

Click "Read More" to view ATR's official statement endorsing this package.  For a pdf of the statement, click here.

 

Taxpayer Group Endorses Georgia Legislation
Jobs, Opportunity and Business Success Act of 2009 Provides True Economic Stimulus
 
Washington, D.C. – Americans for Tax Reform, today, announced their support for House Bills 481 and 482, together known as the Jobs, Opportunity and Business Success Act of 2009. The legislative package, introduced by Georgia Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger), is aimed at rejuvenating the state’s economy and job creation. 
 
Key provisions of the package include a 12 year phase out of the state corporate income tax rate starting in 2012 and an elimination of the state inventory tax. Georgia voters would have to approve the inventory tax elimination in a statewide referendum.
 
“I applaud Rep. Graves for bringing these pro-growth, pro-taxpayer measures forward,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “This package stands in sharp contrast to the Obama stimulus plan. Rep. Graves’ plan will provide real stimulus to the Georgia economy, recognizing that the true stimulus lies in policies that encourage growth and job creation in the private sector rather than big government.”
 
As it stands, Georgia ranks in the bottom half of the 50 state business tax climate ranking. Only 15 states have a higher state and local tax burden. Graves’ legislation has also been endorsed by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and the Georgia Retail Association, among others. 

“This legislation will make The Peach State a much more attractive place to live, work, invest, and create jobs,” added Norquist.

 

 

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No State is a Total Failure - Some Just Serve as Bad Examples


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009, 12:00 PM PERMALINK


 

On the heels of last week's budget vote imposing tens of billions in new taxes on Golden State residents, the California Republican Party approved a measure to deny campaign funding to the 6 Republicans that crossed over to vote for the tax hike-laden budget.

Click here to read ATR's statement on last week's budget vote and to read Grover's piece that was published in yesterday's Sacramento Bee, click here.  Over the weekend the Wall Street Journal also provided a succinct assessment of what plagues California.

The good news from all of this - other states are learning from California's bad example.  Legislation introduced in Texas by Representative Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) and Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) would ensure that the Lone Star State lives within its means and has a government that the state can afford.  The bill (HB 994/SB 992), dubbed the "California Disaster Avoidance Plan," would ensure that state spending does not outpace the rate of growth in population and inflation.  It's no wonder that Californians are moving to Texas in droves where elected officials are looking for ways to protect taxpayers rather than fleece them.

Click the "Read More" button to read ATR's statement in support of this legislation:

 

Taxpayer Group Endorses Texas Legislation
“California Disaster Avoidance Plan” ties spending to population and inflation
 
Washington, D.C. – Americans for Tax Reform, today, announced their support for House Bill 994, dubbed “The California Disaster Avoidance Plan.” HB 994, introduced by Rep. Ken Paxton (R-McKinney) and Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston), would prohibit state spending increases from outpacing growth in population and inflation. 
 
“I applaud Rep. Ken Paxton and Sen. Dan Patrick for bringing forth this much needed legislation,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “Nearly every state budget is in the red and profligate spending is what got so many states into the current fiscal mess. This bill will ensure that the Lone Star State avoids the same experience.”
 
According to Center for Fiscal Accountability, Texans already spend 186 days annually – well over half the year – just paying off the cost of their government.  Projections peg Texas’s budget shortfall anywhere from $3 billion to $12 billion.
 
“Has the state of Texas fared better than most states in this current recession? Yes, but the projected deficit is indicative of the fact that the state still does not live within its means,” continued Norquist. “Now more than ever is the time for a spending limit in Texas. Rep. Paxton and Sen. Patrick’s bill will take taxpayers off of the chopping block and force government to exercise fiscal restraint just as Texan families do everyday.

 

 

 

 

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California is Officially Closed for Business


Posted by Patrick Gleason on Thursday, February 19th, 2009, 8:11 PM PERMALINK


Californians have Taxpayer Protection Pledge breaker Sen. Abel Maldonado and four other Pledge violating lawmakers to thank for a $14 billion tax hike that passed the California Senate earlier today. For Sen. Maldonado’s betrayal, he received three constitutional amendments to be placed on the statewide ballot. One of these amendments was the creation of an open primary system, which he believes will allow him to better prevent electoral retribution if he decides to run for statewide office.
 
To read ATR’s statement on this taxpayer betrayal, click “read more.”
 
California Legislature Passes $14 Billion Tax Hike
6 Legislators Violate Pledge to Constituents
 
WASHINGTON D.C– Early today the California Senate passed a budget agreement that will raise taxes by $14 billion. Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) provided the deciding vote. The California Assembly approved the deal shortly thereafter.
 
In approving this massive tax increase Sen. Maldonado has violated a written promise he made to Californians that he would “oppose any and all efforts to raise taxes.” Other Golden State lawmakers who broke this same commitment today include Sen. Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto), Sen. Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield), Assemblyman Mike Villines (R-Clovis) and Assemblyman Anthony Adams (R-Hesperia).
 
“It is a truly sad day for California taxpayers,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “It is never good when a politician breaks a promise to constituents, but it is unconscionable when a broken promise results in a $14 billion tax hike in the middle of a recession .”
 
Californians face the 6th highest tax burden in the country and already pay the highest gas, sales, and income taxes in the nation. The budget deal passed in Sacramento today raises all of those rates. In exchange for Sen. Maldonado’s vote, three constitutional amendments will be put on the statewide ballot. One of those amendments would create an open primary system.
 
“People and employers have been fleeing the state in droves as a result of California’s punitive tax code, taking jobs and income with them. Today’s vote will only exacerbate this deleterious trend,” saidNorquist. “Californians worked 204 days last year, well over half of the year, just to pay for the cost of their government. As a result of this budget it will take much longer to pay this cost in future years. The vote that happened in Sacramento today made it very clear that California is closed for business.”

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