Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts Tagged ‘sales taxes’

BP settlement cash

Nice. The city of Houston, Harris County and Metro netted $23 million in compensation from BP for revenue they could not collect in the wake of the company’s 2010 Gulf oil spill, officials announced Thursday. Houston will pocket about $12.2 million from the costliest environmental lawsuit in U.S. history to cover hotel and sales tax […]

Circling back to city finances

I have three things to say about this. This time, [City Finance Director Kelly] Dowe insists, the $126 million deficit he projects for the budget year that starts next summer is not going to disappear, as past projected shortfalls have. There are no more payments to defer, he says, no more valuable city-owned land to […]

Sales tax revenues take a dip

Don’t freak out just yet, but do be a little worried. Houston’s 53-month consecutive span of year-over-year sales tax revenue gains has come to an end, five months into an energy slump analysts said could dent the city’s economic numbers for the rest of the year. The city’s $50.1 million sales tax revenues for April, […]

Meet your Constitutional amendments

A pretty uninspiring bunch, if you ask me. Now that the dust has settled on the 84th Texas Legislature, voters are getting the first official look at which constitutional amendments they will be voting on come November. Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos on Wednesday took the last step to place seven propositions on this […]

Budget deal

What Christopher Hooks says. Texans, you can put down your pitchforks and douse your torches: The edibles you’ve squirreled away in your emergency bunkers can be safely consumed. Life can begin anew. The tax cut war between House and Senate has been resolved, which means that barring a catastrophic screw-up—say, Comptroller Glenn Hegar realizing he […]

House passes sales tax cut

Over to you, Danno. The Texas House tentatively approved a $4.9 billion tax relief plan Tuesday that includes a cut to the state’s sales tax, marking a clear line in the sand against the Senate, which favors property tax cuts. The House voted 141-0 for House Bill 31 by Ways and Means Chairman Dennis Bonnen, […]

Bill filing deadline has passed

Believe it or not, we are almost halfway through the legislative session, and we have now passed the point where new bills can be filed. Racing to beat a deadline for filing bills, state lawmakers on Friday submitted hundreds of measures on everything from abolishing the death penalty to the licensing of auctioneers. By the […]

Voodoo economics

Also known as Dan Patrick’s budgetary contortions. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, joined by the Texas Senate’s lead budget writers, announced “a new bold proposal” Wednesday morning to allow lawmakers to cut property taxes and pay down the state’s debt without busting the state’s politically charged spending cap. “Gosh darn, we know our businesses and taxpayers […]

The games our tax system plays

I find this just fascinating. It’s been described as bribery, taxation without representation and a shady political maneuver. Others have called it an innovative way to deal with budgetary problems and get things done. Ever since Texas lawmakers made it more difficult for cities to absorb suburbs into their boundaries 15 years ago, Houston has […]

From the “Simple answers to simple questions” department

The Statesman asks “Would Dan Patrick’s tax plan lower your taxes?” Efforts to shift toward sales tax in lieu of property and income taxes have in recent years gained momentum in Republican-led states — even as economists warn that this sort of tax reform is likely to harm the majority of taxpayers. Economists point out […]

The Lite Guv debate

It was lively, and it was a good reminder of who Dan Patrick really is. In the only scheduled debate in their race for lieutenant governor, state Sens. Dan Patrick and Leticia Van de Putte faced off on Monday night in a lively exchange that displayed their divergent positions on everything from health care and […]

Dan Patrick sightings

I doubt that the Chron’s calling out of Dan Patrick had anything to do with him appearing in public, in the daylight, where there might be people that don’t vote Republican, but it was good timing anyway. Now that Patrick is a heavy favorite in his first statewide race, for the powerful position of lieutenant […]

Teacher health insurance costs

Another thing on the list of things the Legislature needs to deal with but won’t. Health care insurance costs for hundreds of thousands of Texas teachers and other public school employees are scheduled to go up again this fall, prompting renewed calls from educator groups for the state to pick up more of the cost […]

Collier’s sales tax criticism of Hegar makes the news

That’s how you do it. 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. […]

Collier hammers Hegar for property tax idiocy

Good. During the recent Republican primary for state comptroller, state Sen. Glenn Hegar repeatedly endorsed eliminating local property taxes in Texas. Borrowing from GOP opponent Debra Medina’s 2010 playbook, Hegar urged a shift to sales taxes to make up the more than $40 billion a year of revenue that cities, counties, school districts and other […]

Council approves Costco tax rebate

I still don’t think this is a good idea. The Houston City Council on Wednesday approved a $1 million economic development deal to help Costco build a store outside the city limits. In a rambling discussion ending in a 12-3 vote, supporters argued that the sales tax rebate would drive further development in the area […]

A tax break where?

I don’t quite understand this. The Houston City Council on Wednesday will consider giving up to $1 million in tax rebates to a Costco store that would be built outside city limits. City officials say the proposed 151,600-square-foot warehouse and liquor store, in the 23600 block of Katy Freeway, will act as a catalyst for […]

Bad ideas never die

And so we find ourselves once again talking about tax breaks for yacht buyers. From capping the sales tax on yachts to phasing out the state business levy, some lawmakers are pushing for tax breaks even as others say the system is already riddled with too many special-interest exemptions. The breaks are most often cast […]

More on sunsetting tax expenditures

I say again, this is a good idea that really needs to happen. The Texas tax code is rich with tax breaks. There are tax breaks for industries relocating to the state and for anyone with an Internet connection. Tax exemptions for groceries and bottled water. Tax holidays for back-to-school supplies. Tax exemptions for golf […]

Amazon fulfills its end of the deal with Texas

Good to see. Nine months after it struck a deal with the state to bring thousands of jobs and invest millions of dollars in Texas, online retail giant Amazon.com on Wednesday unveiled the first steps toward keeping its end of the bargain. Amazon said Wednesday it will build three fulfillment centers in Texas, creating about […]

How would you pay for extra school security?

Would you be willing to tax yourself for it? Texas school districts could create special taxing districts to fund more security under a proposal unveiled Tuesday by three Houston-area lawmakers. The Texas School District Security Act would allow school boards to hold elections on whether sales or property taxes should be raised to fund more […]

When is a surplus not a surplus?

When any extra money you might have is already accounted for, due to unaddressed needs, accounting shenanigans, and shortsighted cuts. Some lawmakers and budget experts expect to have as much as $8 billion to $9 billion more in general revenue in this fiscal period, which ends Aug. 31. Some are guessing lower. Combs will give […]

Don’t write off the University line

Metro certainly hasn’t, judging by what they’re saying. “Dallas has almost 100 miles of light rail,” Metro board chairman Gilbert Garcia told a business luncheon Tuesday. “Certainly we can get to The Galleria.” What hasn’t been figured out, yet, is how to pay for the project. Federal money was heavily leveraged to get the North […]

Amazon comes to Schertz

Hello, Schertz! After about six months of negotiations, this city, the Schertz Economic Development Corp. and Guadalupe County have approved about $7.6 million in direct tax incentives to land a $166 million distribution warehouse for Amazon.com. The 1.26 million-square-foot warehouse, called a fulfillment center, will become the largest facility in Schertz and Guadalupe County, Schertz […]

Closing arguments for the Metro referendum

One way or another, this argument will be settled on Tuesday. What happens after that is still anyone’s guess. The referendum on Tuesday’s ballot asks whether to continue spending some public transit sales tax money on streets and bridges. Opponents have campaigned against it by recasting the question: Should transit money be spent on roads […]

More back and forth on the Metro referendum

Metro Board Chair Gilbert Garcia explains the referendum for those who say they don’t understand it. The referendum is as easy as 1-2-3. If approved, it will: 1. Continue the road-building program. 2. Expand Metro’s bus system. 3. Pay down Metro’s short-term debt. Sure, the mathematics of how the money flows to accomplish these items […]

Interview with County Commissioner Steve Radack

To wrap up my series of interviews relating to the Metro referendum, I spoke to the person with whom Metro Chair Gilbert Garcia brokered the deal on the GMP reauthorization: County Commissioner Steve Radack. Commissioner Radack is a strong advocate of the General Mobility Program and a critic of light rail. I suspect that if […]

Interview with Gilbert Garcia and Christof Spieler

Continuing the discussion of the Metro referendum, today’s interview is with Metro Board Chair Gilbert Garcia, and Board Member Christof Spieler. Garcia originally proposed a referendum that would continue the GMP but freeze revenues for the member entities at 2014 levels, with Metro getting all of the revenue increases above that. After an alternate measure […]

Interview with David Crossley

This week I’m going to take an in depth look at the one contentious referendum on the ballot, the Metro referendum. The purpose and the language of the referendum is whether or not to reauthorize the General Mobility Program, in which Metro turns over 25% of its sales tax revenue to Harris County, the city […]

It’s usually a bad idea to bet on any kind of overhaul in the Lege

I agree that it’s a sucker’s bet to think that the Lege will try to fix Texas’ tax code in any meaningful way. Nobody likes having to take votes that may later be used as clubs against them in a campaign, and the lobbyists swarm like no other time when someone’s tax break is on […]

Will voters understand the Metro referendum?

That’s the question that people on both sides of the issue are asking themselves. “You have some people who will read it and maybe they don’t like Metro and so they’re going to vote against it, without realizing that by voting against it they’re really going to be damaging the county and the city and […]

Can’t we all just get along?

I have a question about this. Commissioner Steve Radack has already been heaped with praise from his colleagues for helping broker a deal with Metro chairman Gilbert Garcia and Houston Mayor Annise Parker that replaced an earlier proposal that would have drastically reduced the county’s share of that mobility money. As the court voted to […]

Castro puts pre-K on the national stage

In addition to thrusting himself into the national spotlight with his DNC keynote address, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro also brought the discussion about pre-kindergarten education to the fore. Under the biggest spotlight of his political career, Mayor Julián Castro brought national attention Tuesday to his early childhood education initiative. An estimated 26 million people […]

Endorsement watch: For Metro

The Chron comes out in favor of another referendum. If you look closely at the weekday mix of traffic, you’ll finds lots of 18-wheelers inching along during rush hour. That makes congestion more than an annoyance for individual commuters. Along with the clean air impact it brings, it creates a serious competitiveness issue for this […]