The hunt for $5 billion is on.
Higher driver license fees and a hike in college tuitions are among potential money raisers as a special Senate panel searches for $5 billion in “non-tax revenue” to help fund key services, Senate Finance Chairman Steve Ogden said Monday.
“There are no sacred cows. Everything is on the table,” Ogden, R-Bryan, said after naming senators to the new Finance subcommittee headed by Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock. He asked it to report back in about two weeks.
Ogden said the subcommittee also will look at such ideas as speeding up state tax collections, a proposal also being floated in the House by Appropriations Chairman Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.
Among other items, the panel will examine tax exemptions and look at whether funds such as endowments created by a tobacco lawsuit settlement can be used to help balance the budget, he said.
See here for some background. “Everything” comes with an asterisk next to it, since clearly taxes are not on the table. It also means that the structural deficit caused by the gap between revenue lost to the 2006 property tax cut and gained from the business margins tax will continue to go unaddressed, but as tax legislation must originate in the House and they’re not interested in dealing with it, it was never even near the table. Whether the answers this committee finds will be acceptable to the House is another matter as well. I’m not terribly optimistic, but I consider this one more step on the journey to the eventual realization that we can’t avoid talking about taxes forever. We have to try everything else so it will be the only thing left. EoW has more.