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Governor Vilsack Abandons Tax Relief
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Press Release

Governor Vilsack Abandons Tax Relief

Iowa appears to have missed the chance for positive tax reform, and instead taxpayers are getting socked with a bill for new spending. The state legislature reportedly worked out a compromise with Governor Vilsack during a special session focused on economic growth. The deal included tax reduction and simplification, saving taxpayers $310 million a year, as well as new rules to protect reduce frivolous workers’ compensation lawsuits. The measures would have reduced Iowa’s complicated tax code from nine brackets to three, making the state more competitive and business-friendly.

03/13/2003
Buckeye Institute to Release Comprehensive Medicaid Reform Proposal
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Press Release

Buckeye Institute to Release Comprehensive Medicaid Reform Proposal

The Buckeye Institute will release Reforming Medicaid in Ohio: A Framework for Using Consumer Choice and Competition to Spur Improved Outcomes. Medicaid has been one of the fastest growing portions of the state budget in the past decade. Reforming Medicaid in Ohio: A Framework for Using Consumer Choice and Competition to Spur Improved Outcomes examines how policymakers can see significant cost savings and improved outcomes through increased consumer choice and competition. Available at www.buckeyeinstitute.org on 3/13/03.

03/13/2003
Buckeye Institute to Release Comprehensive Medicaid Reform Proposal
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Press Release

Buckeye Institute to Release Comprehensive Medicaid Reform Proposal

The Buckeye Institute will release Reforming Medicaid in Ohio: A Framework for Using Consumer Choice and Competition to Spur Improved Outcomes. Medicaid has been one of the fastest growing portions of the state budget in the past decade. Reforming Medicaid in Ohio: A Framework for Using Consumer Choice and Competition to Spur Improved Outcomes examines how policymakers can see significant cost savings and improved outcomes through increased consumer choice and competition. Available at www.buckeyeinstitute.org on 3/13/03.

03/13/2003
Officials Lobby for Hotel Measure
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Officials Lobby for Hotel Measure

BY Colleen McCain Nelson

AUSTIN - Dallas' political heavyweights descended on the Capitol on Wednesday, seeking support for legislation that would fund a convention center hotel. Mayor Laura Miller, seven City Council members and other local officials told members of the House Economic Development Committee that building a hotel adjacent to the newly expanded convention center is the key to making Dallas a destination for conventioneers. "The question remains: If we build it, will they come?" Rep. Steve Wolens told the committee. Groups that don't give Dallas a second look could be coaxed to come to North Texas if the convention center had an adjoining hotel, the Dallas Democrat said. And spillover from large conventions would benefit other downtown hotels, he said. The committee is considering a bill that would allow the city to build a hotel and use the new occupancy taxes to finance construction. City officials have discussed building a $ 265 million hotel and hiring a private company to manage it. Opponents argued that the project would be a bad deal for taxpayers and that the city should stay out of the hotel business. The project would siphon travelers from existing hotels, they said. After hearing four hours of testimony, the committee took no action on the legislation. Mr. Wolens, who wrote the hotel bill, and his wife, Ms. Miller, who testified in support of the legislation, provided the city's one-two punch at the hearing. Officials from Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston, as well as Hilton and Marriott executives, also lobbied for the bill. Houston officials successfully sought similar legislation a decade ago. The city's new hotel is scheduled to open in November. Mr. Wolens' legislation would have permitted only Dallas to use occupancy taxes to pay for a convention hotel. But a substitute bill would include any city with a population of at least 250,000. Jordy Tollett, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the hotel has given the city a leg up in luring conventions. Fourteen groups signed on with Houston the day the city broke ground for the hotel, he said. A convention center hotel has become a necessity for a number of organizations, said Greg Elam, senior vice president of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. At least 60 groups won't even consider coming to Dallas simply because conventioneers must trek from the center to hotels scattered across downtown, he said. "This is the most important single step we can take for the viability of Dallas for some conventions," Mr. Elam said. But some committee members questioned whether Dallas would really be on equal footing with cities such as Las Vegas and New Orleans by virtue of having a hotel. "I'm wondering what other attractions besides the hotel are going to be able to bring people to Dallas," said Rep. Martha Wong, R-Houston. That's a familiar refrain in Dallas, Ms. Miller said after the hearing. "We understand that we've got to provide more things for people to do in Dallas," she said. The planned Trinity River project is evidence that city leaders are thinking big, Ms. Miller said. Opponents of the hotel bill argued that it's bad business to build a hotel on the backs of taxpayers. If a convention center hotel were likely to make money, "for-profit hotel chains would be beating down the doors at City Hall," said Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. She said the state should not submit to pressure to keep pace with other cities' tax-subsidized projects. "If Las Vegas builds the Taj Mahal, do we have to do the same to compete?" she said. Bruce Walker, president of Source Strategies Inc., presented lawmakers a study that he said shows definitively that convention center hotels do not attract more travelers. "Convention center hotels do not create their own demand," he said In Dallas, there's no evidence of need for additional hotel rooms, Mr. Walker said. "A new hotel is going to steal from other hotels," he said. Mr. Walker, who has also worked for Holiday Inn, studied 16 large Texas hotels. Proponents of the bill disputed his findings because he examined hotels that were simply near - and not necessarily adjacent to - convention centers. Hotels attached to convention centers have been more successful than those even a block or two away, they said.

03/13/2003
House Panel Underwhelmed by Metroplex Hotels Proposal
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House Panel Underwhelmed by Metroplex Hotels Proposal

BY John Kirsch

AUSTIN--A plan pushed by Dallas and Fort Worth officials to use hotel-motel tax revenues to build convention center hotels got a skeptical reception Wednesday from a state House panel. "This, to me, appears to be corporate welfare," state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, told Dallas Mayor Laura Miller. Miller and seven Dallas City Council members appeared before the House Economic Development Committee on Wednesday morning to promote House Bill 262. The measure is sponsored by Miller's husband, state Rep. Steve Wolens, D-Dallas. It would permit Dallas and other Texas cities, including Fort Worth, to use some hotel-motel tax revenues to build convention center hotels. The tax revenue would normally go to the state. Miller said the bill would allow Dallas to compete more successfully for lucrative conventions being lost to Las Vegas and other cities that have more hotels. She said Dallas must offer subsidies to lure development downtown. "Nationally, it has been shown that convention center hotels that are attached to convention centers have to receive tax subsidies, or else they don't get built," she said. Fort Worth City Councilwoman Becky Haskin said that Houston already qualifies for the option, and that allowing smaller cities to take advantage of it would bring more conventions to Texas. Fort Worth had planned to issue $160 million in debt through certificates of obligation to build a 600-room hotel. That plan was derailed when a taxpayers group forced the issue to a public vote by presenting the City Council with a petition signed by more than 15,000 residents. The council has postponed a vote while a committee determines whether a publicly financed hotel is needed. A study released by an Austin-based watchdog group concluded that a tax-subsidized hotel in Dallas would not increase demand for hotel rooms and would drain business from existing hotels. "Though well-intentioned, these projects are not a good deal," said Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, which commissioned the study. But Thomas Hazinski, managing director of HVS International, a Chicago-based hotel industry consulting firm, said the study was flawed. He said his firm's analysis of the Dallas project found that it would bring in 12 new events annually and pump $300 million into the local economy. "It really is the opposite of corporate welfare," he said.

03/13/2003
Dallas Officials Lobby Legislators for Convention Center Hotel
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Dallas Officials Lobby Legislators for Convention Center Hotel

Mar. 13--AUSTIN, TexasDallas' political heavyweights descended on the Capitol on Wednesday, seeking support for legislation that would fund a convention center hotel. Mayor Laura Miller, seven City Council members and other local officials told members of the House Economic Development Committee that building a hotel adjacent to the newly expanded convention center is the key to making Dallas a destination for conventioneers. "The question remains: If we build it, will they come?" Rep. Steve Wolens told the committee. Groups that don't give Dallas a second look could be coaxed to come to North Texas if the convention center had an adjoining hotel, the Dallas Democrat said. And spillover from large conventions would benefit other downtown hotels, he said. The committee is considering a bill that would allow the city to build a hotel and use the new occupancy taxes to finance construction. City officials have discussed building a $265 million hotel and hiring a private company to manage it. Opponents argued that the project would be a bad deal for taxpayers and that the city should stay out of the hotel business. The project would siphon travelers from existing hotels, they said. After hearing four hours of testimony, the committee took no action on the legislation. Mr. Wolens, who wrote the hotel bill, and his wife, Ms. Miller, who testified in support of the legislation, provided the city's one- two punch at the hearing. Officials from Fort Worth, San Antonio and Houston, as well as Hilton and Marriott executives, also lobbied for the bill. Houston officials successfully sought similar legislation a decade ago. The city's new hotel is scheduled to open in November. Mr. Wolens' legislation would have permitted only Dallas to use occupancy taxes to pay for a convention hotel. But a substitute bill would include any city with a population of at least 250,000. Jordy Tollett, president and CEO of the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the hotel has given the city a leg up in luring conventions. Fourteen groups signed on with Houston the day the city broke ground for the hotel, he said. A convention center hotel has become a necessity for a number of organizations, said Greg Elam, senior vice president of the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau. At least 60 groups won't even consider coming to Dallas simply because conventioneers must trek from the center to hotels scattered across downtown, he said. "This is the most important single step we can take for the viability of Dallas for some conventions," Mr. Elam said. But some committee members questioned whether Dallas would really be on equal footing with cities such as Las Vegas and New Orleans by virtue of having a hotel. "I'm wondering what other attractions besides the hotel are going to be able to bring people to Dallas," said Rep. Martha Wong, R- Houston. That's a familiar refrain in Dallas, Ms. Miller said after the hearing. "We understand that we've got to provide more things for people to do in Dallas," she said. The planned Trinity River project is evidence that city leaders are thinking big, Ms. Miller said. Opponents of the hotel bill argued that it's bad business to build a hotel on the backs of taxpayers. If a convention center hotel were likely to make money, "for- profit hotel chains would be beating down the doors at City Hall," said Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. She said the state should not submit to pressure to keep pace with other cities' tax-subsidized projects. "If Las Vegas builds the Taj Mahal, do we have to do the same to compete?" she said. Bruce Walker, president of Source Strategies Inc., presented lawmakers a study that he said shows definitively that convention center hotels do not attract more travelers. "Convention center hotels do not create their own demand," he said In Dallas, there's no evidence of need for additional hotel rooms, Mr. Walker said. "A new hotel is going to steal from other hotels," he said. Mr. Walker, who has also worked for Holiday Inn, studied 16 large Texas hotels. Proponents of the bill disputed his findings because he examined hotels that were simply near and not necessarily adjacent to convention centers. Hotels attached to convention centers have been more successful than those even a block or two away, they said.

03/13/2003
Federal File: Pork Pie
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Federal File: Pork Pie

BY Erik W Robelen

The House-Senate conference report that came with a $400 billion spending bill enacted last month contains a little extra reading material you won't find in the actual bill. It includes page after page of what are commonly known as earmarks. Critics derisively call it "pork barrel" spending, since most of the money goes to parochial projects in lawmakers' home states and districts.

03/12/2003
Concerned That a Good Name Is Hard To Find
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Concerned That a Good Name Is Hard To Find

BY Reg Henry

Last week, high school students calling themselves the Pittsburgh Association of Peaceful and Proactive Youth rallied outside the headquarters of the city school district in support of peace. Whatever the merits of their cause -- and I am for peace, even if it doesn't do much to boost newspaper circulation -- surely we can all agree that the student group has come up with an inspired name.

03/11/2003
A Boon to Ordinary Investors
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Press Release

A Boon to Ordinary Investors

This op-ed originially ran in the Washington Post on Tuesday, March 11, 2003; Page A23 I believe there is an urgent need to pass President Bush's plan eliminating the double taxation of dividends. Such a change would revive investor confidence in equity investing, restore an appropriate balance between the interests of corporate executives and shareholders, and create new jobs.

03/11/2003
Latest Polling on the Economy and Tax Cuts
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Press Release

Latest Polling on the Economy and Tax Cuts

As you know, Citizens for a Sound Economy and our 280,000 members are mobilizing in support of the president’s tax plan. Grassroots members like you are already calling their Representatives and demanding that Congress pass President Bush’s Economic Growth and Jobs Creation package.

03/11/2003

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