Democrat Mike Collier, a certified public accountant from Houston, will start airing television ads criticizing opponent Glenn Hegar, a Republican state senator from Katy, for his support to phase out property taxes and increase state sales taxes.
Collier and Hegar are vying to replace outgoing Comptroller Susan Combs, a Republican.
The 30-second ad, which will air in Houston, uses video of Hegar touting his position at a January meeting of We The People-Longview Tea Party.
“I don’t like the property tax, never have,” Hegar says in the video. “I think we should replace it. The best thing to replace it with is a consumption-type tax, a sales tax per se.”
Later in the ad, a male announcer says, “Mike Collier has a better plan: Forecast revenues accurately. Invest in our schools. And, hold the line on taxes.”
Local property taxes account for roughly 47 percent of tax revenue in Texas, according to a 2012 report from the comptroller’s office. State and local sales taxes make up 32 percent of revenue.
Another 2012 study – written by former deputy comptroller Billy Hamilton and published by a Republican group called Texas Tax Truth – said consumers would have to pay up to 25 percent in state sales tax to make up for the approximate $45 billion in lost revenue caused by abolishing property taxes.
“There’s no way that Hegar can make a sensible convincing policy point that we should get rid of the property tax in favor of a broader, larger sales tax,” said Cal Jillson, a political scientistat Southern Methodist University.
And, the shift from property taxes would deprive local governments, school districts and other entities of their primary method of revenue collection, said John Kennedy, an analyst at Texas Taxpayers and Research Association. That would mean municipalities would have to rely primarily on the state to finance their operations.
Can I just say how excellent it is to have a competent Democratic candidate running for Comptroller? Here’s who we had in the past three elections:
2006: Fred Head
2002: Marty Akins
Arguably, that’s in descending order of effectiveness. I could be persuaded to swap Head and Akins. Basically, Collier is the first serious Comptroller candidate we’ve had since Paul Hobby. It’s a beautiful thing.
But, Collier’s line of attack isn’t guaranteed to stick, Jillson said. The Nov. 4 election is seven months away and voters may not remember a fight over taxes from April, he said.
Jason Stanford, a consultant working on the Collier campaign, said the Democrat’s team plans to maintain this line of attack through the November election.
“We can’t play this race according to the old rule book,” Stanford said. “We have to make this race about actual ideas and competence.”
The thing is, Collier could keep up this line of attack all the way through November without ever repeating himself, because there’s so many ways Hegar’s tax swap is attackable. Consider:
- Local taxing entities – counties, cities, school districts – would essentially cede all taxing authority to the state. Do you want local control over your city and school district budgets, or do you want to hand all that to Austin?
- Do you want to start paying $25,000 for a $20,000 car? With Glenn Hegar’s tax plan, you will.
- Unless you own a million dollar home, your taxes are going up. Unless you live in a place with a lot of retail activity, your city and your schools are going to get screwed.
- Can you imagine the black market that will spring up with a 25% sales tax? The Comptroller’s office will have to become an arm of the IRS to ensure adequate collections.
And on and on. Collier will still have to raise the money to get that message out, but having that message will likely make it easier to raise the dough. There’s no downside here. Burka and EoW have more.