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Texas House Passes Tax Cut For Chewing Tobacco—I Am Not Making This Up

I am not making this up—As funds for education and vital state services in Texas are being slashed to the bone in the ongoing legislative session, the Republican-controlled  Texas House of Representatives has passed a tax cut for the purchase of chewing tobacco.

From the Austin American-Statesman

“Members of the Texas House on Wednesday approved a bill to lower a tax on Red Man and other brands of loose-leaf chewing tobacco. When Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland , laid out House Bill 2599, one freshman House member from Central Texas couldn’t believe his ears. “I just had to clarify. It’s cutting taxes to chewing tobacco?” a shocked Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, asked from the floor. Isaac was the only member to question the measure, which passed 83-53. “We just created an incentive for people to use cancer-causing products,” Isaac said after the bill was approved. “When we have the fiscal problems that we have, it’s wrong to be cutting taxes on products like chewing tobacco.”

(Above—Tobacco flower. Photo by William Rafti. Here are facts about the cultivation of tobacco.)   

Already, the Texas House is considering a tax break for the purchase of yachts.

Texas is first in the nation in percentage of people without health insurance. Texas is fighting the federal health care reform law which will expand coverage to millions of Americans.

Yet at the same time, Texas is considering making it more affordable for people to use chewing tobacco.

How any person of any ideological outlook can see this overall course of action as advisable.

Here is what the Mayo Clinic says about the use of chewing tobacco.

The Mayo Clinic does not think that using chewing tobacco is a very good idea.

My friend John Coby has written about this tobacco tax cut at his blog Bay Area Houston.

(Below–People have been chewing tobacco for a long time. They also have been getting sick from chewing tobacco for a long time. Here is a history of the use of tobacco.)  

May 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Texas House Republicans Consider Tax Breaks For Yachts As Vital State Services Are Cut—Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

At the end of this post you’ll find the current Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

With the round-up this week, I’m passing on the news that the Republican-controlled Ways and Means committee of the Texas House of Representatives has okayed a tax break for the purchase of yachts.

(Above–Little comment needed. Photo by B. Straub.)

From the Houston Chronicle-

“Republican Rep. John Davis said other states have paved the way for his proposal — primarily Florida, which backers of his bill say is No. 1 in boat sales to Texas’ No. 2. “We’re losing our yacht sales in Texas to Florida,” said Davis…. Davis said it’s not so much a big break for yacht owners as an effort to keep the economic activity surrounding the vessels. “We’re losing a lot of downstream jobs and sales tax revenue,” he said, because Florida has limited sales taxes on yachts to $18,000. Davis’ bill, as filed, would limit the amount of boat tax to $15,625 – the amount normally due on a $250,000 vessel – regardless of sales price. He said he’s changing that to match Florida’s $18,000 maximum.The fiscal analysis on the original bill said it would cost Texas $1.4 million annually in lost tax revenue, but supporters including yacht brokers note the figure doesn’t take into account the ripple effect of Texas losing yachts. Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, said at a Ways and Means hearing on the proposal that he felt like “I just walked through the Twilight Zone.”

Beyond what this proposal says about some yacht owners, the Florida legislature, Rep. Davis, and our nation as a whole, let’s say that giving a tax break to yacht buyers really would spur some minor amount of economic activity and jobs here in Texas.  I’m not conceding that point—But let’s just say.

Wouldn’t better educating our kids, providing greater resources for public health, and avoiding the public sector layoffs we are seeing in Texas also be good for our state?  Wouldn’t these things create economic benefits and jobs in Texas? Yet our state legislature seems intent on attacking the most important aspects of our future in Texas in the current budget debate.

Let’s take teacher layoffs in Texas. Rather than maybe or maybe not keeping people employed in such a round-about way with tax breaks for the purchase of yachts, why not take the funds that will be lost from the yacht tax break and put those funds towards retaining teachers who would otherwise be terminated?

Or, instead, maybe we could just have tax breaks for the purchase of yachts.

Here is the round-up—

The long range plan to kill public education is reaching the end game. Over a tTexasKaos, lightseeker talks about seeing one of the (unintentional) moving parts at a public lecture given by one of the premier charter schools in the nation. Check out Educational Reform and Our Common Peril!

Bay Area Houston has the latest on state representative Larry Taylor’s emergency surgery.

What conservatives believe to be true ranks far above what is actually true,and even what is demonstrably true according to science and mathematics. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs points out that this why Rick Perry declares Easter weekend as ‘Days of Prayer for Rain in Texas’, and why John Cornyn “isn’t so sure” that Jon Kyl was wrong when he claimed that abortions were 90% of Planned Parenthood’s budget. It should consequently be no surprise that they place no value in teachers and education.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme thinks the Texas Supreme Court, aka the republican crony justice system, sucks. Continue reading

May 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment