The Statesman asks around about three of the Legislative Budget Board recommendations for raising revenue. First, the suggestion to allow liquor sales on Sunday, which it projects would generate an extra $7.4 million. Not surprisingly, the liquor industry favors this, but some others don’t:
David Jabour, president of Austin-based Twin Liquors, said the demand wouldn’t be high enough to warrant another business day.
“Based on some analysis that we have done, it would actually simply spread the business over seven days,” Jabour said.
Jabour also said the guarantee of having Sundays off attracts higher quality employees.
Suzii Paynter, director of the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas — a group that opposes the expansion of alcohol availability — said the money raised by Sunday sales would be a drop in the bucket. By comparison, raising the tax on beer to a level similar to the tax on cigarettes would bring in nearly $700 million, she said.
I can’t address Jabour’s argument about Sunday sales cannibalizing other days’, but I will note that being allowed to open on Sunday doesn’t mean you have to be. As for Paynter, that isn’t actually an argument against. She’s right, higher taxes on beer would raise more money, but 1) there’s no way in hell that will happen, and 2) even if that were an option, there’s no reason you couldn’t allow Sunday liquor sales as well. It’s not an either-or choice.
Then there’s the recommendation of a fee on gas guzzlers:
Environment Texas director Luke Metzger said heavier gas-guzzlers tend to cause more wear and tear on roads.
“If the direction lawmakers are going is increased fees, that’s one fee that certainly makes sense — as a way to recoup from the damages they cause and to encourage the production of more environmentally friendly vehicles,” Metzger said.
Metzger said his group would prefer that lawmakers “take on some of the biggest polluters with direct taxes on the industries themselves, rather than regular Texans. But this is a reasonable next-best policy we could hope for.”
Yeah. Too bad this will never happen, because I think it’s a great idea, too. I just can’t see anyone on the Republican side touching it with a ten foot pole.
Finally, there’s suspending the sales tax holiday:
Dick Lavine, senior fiscal analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities, which advocates for low- and middle-income Texans, said the holiday was originally intended to help lower-income families. But most of the savings actually go to higher income families that can afford to purchase a full year’s worth of school supplies and clothing tax-free, he said.
Lavine said the cost to the state is not worth keeping a holiday that doesn’t help families that already carry a disproportionate share of the burden of the sales tax.
He said the additional revenue “could make a large difference in any of the programs that are being threatened with cutbacks or being shut down.”
I must admit, I hadn’t thought of it that way. This perspective makes me a lot more favorable to the idea. But as with the gas guzzler surcharge, I have a hard time seeing it get passed. In another year, with a different legislature, maybe. Not this time.