As the 2009 session of the Texas legislature heads into the home stretch, things are heating up in Austin – both in terms of the weather and action under the capitol dome.

The biggest threat to Lone Star State taxpayers heading into the final weekend of session remains Senator Carona’s local option tax and fee package, which if passed could lead to a 125% gas tax increase in every major population center in the state.

It recently appeared that the measure was dead due to lack of support in the House but that all changed this week. In an effort to keep his tax and fee package alive, Senator Carona (R-Dallas) has attached the local gasoline tax (up to 10 cents per gallon), the local drivers license fee (up to $24), and the “mobility improvement” fee on vehicle registration (up to $60) to HB 300, the TxDOT sunset bill.

Yesterday, 84 Texas House members voted courageously and correctly to instruct its conferees on the bill to not return a version that includes those new taxes and fees. As this legislation heads to conference, Americans for Tax Reform is asking lawmakers to reject any version of HB 300 that includes the local option tax and fee package. 

Americans for Tax Reform agrees with other pro-growth groups – such as the Texas Public Policy Foundation, Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Americans for Prosperity-Texas – that a new local option gas tax, drivers license fee, and “mobility improvement” fee would adversely affect Lone Star State motorists and the Texas economy.
To make matters worse, the local option tax and fee package flies in the face everything Texas has done to lead the transparency in government movement sweeping the nation. Carona’s proposal entails no assurance of accountability or transparency. Counties will not be required to post their spending for public review, or even to prove that funds from the gas tax hike improved transportation and relieved congestion. Texans deserve better from their elected officials.
Stay tuned for developments in this important matter.