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The Case for Budget Deficits
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Press Release

The Case for Budget Deficits

03/06/2003
This Week on Capitol Hill
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Press Release

This Week on Capitol Hill

The Economic Growth and Jobs Creation Plan Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee conducted the first of four hearings on President Bush’s economic growth plan. Treasury Secretary Snow, the first Administration representative called before the committee, deflected Democratic opposition and hammered on the package’s pro-growth and jobs creation features.

03/06/2003
CSE Urges Congress to Reject Gas Tax Increase
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Press Release

CSE Urges Congress to Reject Gas Tax Increase

Today, House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska) and ranking member James Oberstar (D-MN) proposed an increase in the gas tax to pay for a bloated $375 billion highway funding bill (TEA-21). Citizens for a Sound Economy (CSE) strongly opposes any attempt to raise taxes on the American people during this critical time and urges leaders in Congress to reject the increase.

03/06/2003
Tax-Subsidized Hotels Don't Help Cities, Group's Study Says
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Tax-Subsidized Hotels Don't Help Cities, Group's Study Says

BY Mary Mckee

DALLAS--A tax-subsidized convention center hotel is a bad deal because it will not spur an increased demand for hotel rooms and will take business away from existing hotels, according to a study funded by an Austin-based taxpayer watchdog group. Source Strategies Inc. of San Antonio, which analyzes hotel occupancy rates and taxes for the Texas Department of Commerce, was commissioned by the Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy to research the issue because Fort Worth and Dallas are considering such projects to boost convention business in those cities. An analysis of historical data from 16 convention center-area hotels that opened since 1980 in Dallas, Austin, Houston and San Antonio did not find additional growth in hotel room revenue in those cities despite the claim by supporters that new hotels would generate more business, said Bruce Walker, president of Source Strategies. The study, which cost $25,000, also concluded that a Dallas hotel is not a sound investment. The Dallas Taxpayers Rights Coalition, which opposes a tax-subsidized convention center hotel, helped pay for the study. If a $276 million, 1,200-room hotel were publicly subsidized, Walker estimates that Dallas taxpayers would have to chip in $108 million -- and could lose $10 million or more in lost property taxes if the values of nearby hotels drop because of lost business. He projected that downtown Dallas hotels would lose $450 million in lost revenue and $190 million in net profits during the first five years of operation for a convention center hotel. Occupancy rates, which are now at 53 percent and expected to rise to just over 58 percent during the next several years, are projected to dip to 56 percent if a new convention center hotel opened in 2006, Walker said. "Summing it up, convention center hotels do not generate their own demand," Walker said during a news conference at the Adams Mark Hotel in Dallas. "It's a myth." Mayor Laura Miller questioned the study's findings, saying the city's convention experts believe that a hotel adjacent to the Dallas Convention Center is an integral part of attracting more convention business to Dallas, which in turn would produce more revenue. "All I know is our convention officials who have been working for years to bring conventions to Dallas tell us that without a doubt, not having a hotel attached to our facility hurts our ability to bring in conventions," she said. Miller's husband, state Rep. Steve Wolens, D-Dallas, has filed a bill that would allow the city to use a portion of the hotel-motel tax generated by the new convention center hotel to pay debt issued for the project. The tax would come from the portion allocated to the state. The bill has been assigned to the Economic Development Committee and Wolens has requested a public hearing. In Fort Worth, the city had planned to issue $160 million in debt, through certificates of obligation, to pay for a 600-room facility that would have been managed by the Hilton Hotel Corp. But the city's hotel plans were derailed when a nonprofit group, Citizens for Taxpayers Rights, forced the issue to a public vote by presenting the City Council with a petition signed by more than 15,000 residents. The city has postponed a vote on the issue while a committee studies whether a publicly financed convention center hotel is needed.

03/06/2003
Statewide Tax on Income May Be Gaining Steam
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Statewide Tax on Income May Be Gaining Steam

BY W. Gardner Selby

AUSTIN - A dozen years ago today, then-Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock made the biggest public miscalculation of his career in declaring Texas ready for a state personal income tax. Bullock, surprising editorial writers and Gov. Ann Richards at an event in the Governor's Mansion, vowed to lead the charge for a 5 percent personal income tax and 8 percent corporate income tax to fund public schools while driving down local property taxes. Saying he personally disliked "any type of new taxes," Bullock continued: "But I also know deep down in my heart, deep down in my heart, that it's the right thing to do for Texas." Few heeded his call, and Bullock's idea died, although he recovered and even won re-election after proposing a constitutional amendment approved in 1993 that requires voter approval before an income tax becomes law. No statewide official has pushed an income tax since, but advocates - and one opponent - say it might be gaining momentum as lawmakers confront escalating property taxes and a projected state revenue shortfall exceeding $10 billion. "No question, there is a growing movement to consider a state income tax," said Peggy Venable, the Texas director of Citizens for a Sound Economy, which favors cutting taxes and spending. "We have more people moving in from outside the state, of people accustomed to paying a state income tax," Venable said. "There is certainly a property tax revolt rumbling. It's the anything but a property tax" crowd. But, she said, "it would be the wrong move." Republican leaders agree, led by Gov. Rick Perry, who said Wednesday: "The vast, vast majority of the people of the state of Texas think like I do. The smartest thing we have never done in this state is pass a state income tax." "The state income tax is dead," agreed Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst. "There's no support for it in the Legislature and throughout the state." Yet Dewhurst has been studying alternative education funding methods to whittle dependence on local property taxes. "I'm working on it daily," Dewhurst said. "It's got to work numerically and then we've got to work the politics. It will require a lot of explaining all around the state." Among 31 senators and 150 House members, two Democrats are urging colleagues to seek voter approval of a personal income tax as the best alternative to the state's reliance on sales taxes, corporate franchise and other taxes, which yield about $26 billion a year. Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso, estimates the state could raise $15 billion more for education by levying a personal income tax of 4.8 percent, while driving down school property taxes 90 percent. "If voters get to see the facts, their minds change," Shapleigh said. "We can't improve the system by increasing taxes on property. More and more people need to see the facts." First-year Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, plans legislation to progressively tax income at a rate of up to 6 percent, while eliminating local maintenance and operation school property taxes and the corporate franchise tax. "There's no political will to do it," Rodriguez conceded. "We have to create that will." Dallas businessman Albert D. Huddleston has circulated a proposal to fund school facilities and teacher salaries, at an average of $52,000 a year, by replacing local property taxes with either an expanded or increased sales tax, a flat-rate income tax or statewide property tax - or some mix of the three. Huddleston's "Texas Great Teacher Plan," which envisions giving experienced teachers a property tax exemption, would require nearly $19 billion a year, drawing from $11.2 billion in existing state education spending and $7.5 billion generated by the new tax. Few legislators look like they're ready to follow in Bullock's footsteps. Rep. Paul Moreno, D-El Paso, first elected to the House in 1966, cited voters confronting higher property taxes and said: "There's going to be a personal income tax or there's going to be a revolution." More typically, Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, whose district includes Bullock's boyhood home in Hillsboro, shook his head no. "People wouldn't send me back to Austin if I voted for a state income tax," Pitts said.

03/06/2003
Med-Mal Bill Yields Results
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Press Release

Med-Mal Bill Yields Results

From the Charleston Gazette March 5, 2003, Wednesday Copyright 2003 Charleston Newspapers Bob Gray still remembers the magazine cover - a doctor getting into his car with a West Virginia license plate reading "GOODBYE." That cover of Medical Economics magazine symbolizes the view out-of-state doctors had of West Virginia as "tort hell," said Gray, vice president of Thomas Memorial Hospital in South Charleston. But that image already may be changing, he said, even though the Legislature still hasn't passed a medical malpractice bill.

03/05/2003
Convention Hotel Subsidies Hurt Private Businesses
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Press Release

Convention Hotel Subsidies Hurt Private Businesses

Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy released a comprehensive study today that found the primary impact of tax subsidies for convention center hotels is to hurt existing, privately-financed hotels rather than to attract new conventions. GET THE FULL STUDY (large .pdf download) CSE commissioned the study as several Texas cities have proceeded with expanding convention center space and are considering various public subsidies for adjoining Convention Center hotels. One portion of the study examines Dallas' proposed convention center hotel in depth and finds that it is not financially viable. CSE is philosophically opposed to public funding of enterprises which compete with private business. Specifically, this new study examines the impact public subsidies would have on existing hotels, whose owners must pay taxes and risk their own capital in these private enterprises. The three-part study was performed by Source Strategies, Inc. of San Antonio, a company that also provides detailed analysis of hotel occupancy rates and taxes for the Texas Department of Commerce.

03/05/2003
Stimulate Now
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Press Release

Stimulate Now

Today's economic outlook is far from rosy. Consumer confidence is at a 10-year low, retail sales are declining, share prices continue to fall, and oil prices are spiking. A substantial tax cut now would reduce the risk of slow growth and possible decline in the months ahead. While such a fiscal stimulus will increase the budget deficit, there is ample time to reduce unnecessary spending and wasteful tax features to achieve budget balance in the years ahead.

03/04/2003
Reader's Forum
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Reader's Forum

Preferred drug list is not acceptable Editor: The Canadian-style health-care and medication program is a prescription for disaster. West Virginia's elderly and poor could be forced to ultimately pay the price through drastic reduction of services and lack of availability of life-saving medications. West Virginia Citizens for a Sound Economy believes this could be one more blow to West Virginia's ailing health-care system. And patients will suffer as a result. This is why the Canadian health-care bureaucracy is wrong. The government sets the prices for prescription drugs and the drug makers are forced to accept those reduced prices or simply not market those drugs to its citizens. Under the governor's proposal, the West Virginia Preferred Drug List system will regulate the medications allowed. The PDL system is flawed. Physicians and patients should have complete access to whatever medications are medically appropriate. Do you want the politicians or your doctor prescribing the medicine you need for cancer and heart attacks? The governor should not stop patients from getting the drugs that they desperately need to prevent a stroke. Much of the Medicaid budget is squandered through political funding contests and the inefficient allocation of resources. Millions are lost each year on unnecessary treatments and emergency room visits. Let's fix this problem first - not ration medications for sick West Virginians. Alice Click Point Pleasant Nursing home law already exists Editor: As CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association, I am compelled to respond to the recent Gazette editorial on the proposed legislation requiring nursing homes to form family councils and post detailed staff lists for each shift. This legislation is redundant of the current federal regulations, which our state's nursing homes are required to adhere. New federal regulations, effective Jan. 1, 2003, now require staffing information to be posted in each facility and closely mirror the proposed legislation. Resident councils are already required, while family councils are encouraged. Contrary to the statement in the Gazette editorial, we are not "fighting" this proposed regulation. We do not see the need for additional legislative attention be placed on a law that already exists for nursing homes. Other issues, of much greater consequence, are facing our state's frail and elderly. Primarily, will the Legislature find the funding necessary to fill the $ 300 million Medicaid budget shortfall so access and care for the frail and elderly through the program can continue? Our members are very aware of regulations imposed by state and federal governments. These regulations are followed in our facilities. Our profession understands the need to provide quality service and care to our residents and their families. Imposing a law with existing penalties in addition to existing regulation is just not necessary. John Alfano CEO West Virginia Health Care Association Charleston America needs a black president Editor: It's time that African-Americans elected a leader for our people. Currently, no individual can legitimately claim this title. We are disunited as a people and don't have a central source of power to tap into. None of the existing organizations are sufficient. It is therefore proposed that we elect a "President of Black Affairs." Along with managing social and societal problems, a central source of power would also let the world know where we generally stand as a people regarding important issues - and what goals we'll put our muscle behind in order to progress. Granted, there are philosophical differences within the black community. But that's true of America in general. Yet, somehow, presidents still manage to get elected. Our president would be surrounded by officers representing the various issues. The officers would work PRO-actively as well as RE-actively in our favor. The basic funding for general operations would come from our people themselves. We'd consider it another "tax" we must pay. All interested African-Americans can contact me at kba917a@yahoo.com. The ballot can be sent by mail or by e-mail attachment. The ballots will be submitted to various black publications and organizations in hopes of gaining their support for this endeavor. Keith Anderson Bluefield ATV safety begins at home Editor: It is very unfortunate about the ATV deaths throughout West Virginia. However, the cause is not due to the ATV but rather the ignorance and recklessness of the user and/or legal guardian. The vast majority of ATV deaths involve violating manufacturer's riding instructions and warnings. All ATVs are supplied with emblems that clearly state no passengers, set minimum age requirements, and set maximum speed limits. Nearly all ATV accidents involve violating at least one of these rules. I ask, "Where was the parent?" The parent allowing the child to be put in harm's way should be held legally accountable. Regardless of whether the harm is in the form of a vicious dog, a train track, an ATV or a rattlesnake. Who bought the ATV anyway? Few children can afford such toys. Parenting, common sense and taking time to supervise your child start in the home - not at the Capitol. If we try to legislate ignorance, where does it stop? How does a child know not to put his hand into a lawn mower or touch a hot stove? You guessed it - supervision! Greg Combs Point Pleasant Church, state rules inconsistent Editor: Well, here we go again. Am I the only one upset? Am I the only one who sees the inconsistency? Am I the only one who will speak up? I hope not. It started when the Columbia exploded on re-entry and seven valiant astronauts lost their lives. We were told to pray for the victims and their families. Go to your church or synagogue or mosque and offer prayers and comfort. A memorial service was held at NASA in Houston where the comfort of God was requested. A local religious service was held here in Charleston with all the local politicians, including the governor. The seven were honored and the grace of God requested on all us who endured this tragedy. Remember Sept. 11? The same tenor and fervor covered our entire nation. Pray for the victims and their families. But in between those two events, we were told prayer and God and church and spirituality and after-life and divinity were not supposed to be discussed in the public forum. There was even an attempt to remove "one nation under God" from our national pledge of allegiance. In other words, when all is well, please shut up about God and His Son. But when tragedy strikes, then it's politically correct to request his help. Consistent? Not hardly. Steve Fox Charleston War will not solve anything Editor: While watching the president's State of the Union speech, I didn't hear what I thought should have been the main topic. I never heard the name of God mentioned. That should have been the first word mentioned by Mr. Bush, and he should have used that word many times because God has the whole world in his hands. We are a sinful nation. Just stop for a moment and think why we are having fires burning out of control, floods, storms that destroy whole cities, children killing children/parents, their own best friends. And then there is the issue of fairness. We open the doors to people from Europe, Asia, Far East and then what happens: Sept. 11. We round up all immigrants, line them up and question them for hours or days. Then there is a small boat loaded with black people from Haiti seeking a better life in the Great U.S. of A. and what happens? They are forced to jump boat, rounded up and sent back home. Is this great nation a haven for all people that are oppressed? I don't think so. War with Iraq will not solve anything, Mr. Bush. It will cause death to many thousands of innocent people. Be not deceived, for God is not mocked. Whatsoever man soweth so shall he reap. Ferguson B. Meadows Institute We have heroes at home too Editor: At 4:15 a.m. on Feb. 17, ice on the trees pulled limbs down onto the high voltage power lines. At first I thought we were being bombed, with the fire in the sky. Then within seconds, not minutes, the South Hills fire department was here. It was only minutes till AEP was on the scene and cut the high voltage off. Yes, you're right. We didn't have power but we were safe. I called AEP customer service and they said they were trying to do everything they could, and they were a pleasure to talk to. At 11 a.m. it looked like the Army landed with AEP and Asplundph tree service. By 2 p.m. all trees were trimmed and the power was restored. I watched men go up in the air around high voltage lines that I can tell you, with all the ice, I would not have been there without feathers. I know we have troops abroad and I thank God every day for that, but we also have heroes at home. Oh, you say it's their job. Well, try it. I have worked in different countries and our utility bills are cheaper by far. May God bless all our troops abroad and bring them home safely and bless the people that are taking care of us at home. Tommy J. Ritchey Charleston

03/04/2003
Publicly-Subsidized Convention Center Hotels Risky Business
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Publicly-Subsidized Convention Center Hotels Risky Business

What? Citizens for a Sound Economy, the national conservative think tank and grassroots organization is set to announce the findings of The Source Strategies study showing that Dallas' proposed convention center hotel is not financially viable and will not increase local demand. The Dallas Taxpayers' Rights Coalition is a non-partisan coalition of citizens and local businesses opposed to the City's proposal to build a tax-subsidized, 1,200 room hotel adjacent to the Dallas Convention Center. The Coalition contributed to Citizens for a Sound Economy's commissioned feasibility study for the hotel. When? 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 5th, 2003 Where? The Adam's Mark 400 North Olive Street Room: Lone Star A4 Who? Peggy Venable, Director, Citizens for a Sound Economy-Texas Bruce Walker, President, Source Strategies Tara Ross, Spokesperson, Dallas Taxpayers' Rights Coalition Steve Hollern, Chairman, Citizens for Taxpayers' Rights-Fort Worth CONTACT: Sarah Wright, +1-214-871-8888, for Citizens for a Sound Economy. SOURCE Citizens for a Sound Economy

03/04/2003

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