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A More Deliberate, Broader Review is in Order
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A More Deliberate, Broader Review is in Order

A Texas Senate plan to overhaul the "Robin Hood" school-finance system appears to be swimming against both time and tide, as the June 2 end of the legislative session looms. The plan being pushed by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is floundering in the House, where Speaker Tom Craddick, bolstered by Gov. Rick Perry, is angling for a special session to focus on school finance later this year or next. With so little time left and so many major pieces of legislation to work out in the waning session, the speaker's call for less haste and more deliberation is the better course. Particularly given the complexities, legalities and political sensitivities involved. The Senate voted 30-0 for its plan that would slash school property taxes by about $ 8 billion a year and recoup the lost revenue by increasing the state sales tax rate and expanding the sales tax to many services that are tax-exempt. If the House and Texas voters approved, the plan would replace local school taxes with a statewide property tax and cut the current $ 1.50 per $ 100 valuation cap for school operations to 75 cents. Critics say there's been too little time for debate and public understanding of the measure, and they have a point. In the meantime, Perry and Craddick are launching a $ 1 million study of school finance and other public education issues. Harrison Keller, the House speaker's senior policy analyst on education, said recently that the study will also take a broader look at the state's tax structure. That's a much-needed exercise that should be no-holds-barred and carefully consider all options, including the possibility of a state income tax. School finance has been much studied here in recent years, however, and the time for postponing reform is not limitless. Dewhurst deserves credit for showing leadership on the issue and stirring the pot that needs to be stirred. The Robin Hood school finance system faces legal challenges and is under deserved fire for allowing the state to shift ever more of the burden onto ever-rising local property taxes. But the Senate's proposed "tax swap" comes with a set of its own problems. It doesn't add sufficient new monies to the school system to cover the costs of rapid growth in the student population. Nor would it cover other anticipated increases in the cost of public education. If the rate of inflation were to return to 3 percent a year and the Legislature did not adjust state school funding for this inflation, says an analysis by the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin, "it would take a property poor school district under this plan about eight of the 10-cent local enrichment tax to make up the inflation in a single biennium, which puts our schools right back where they are now, capped out." A sales tax is one of the most regressive forms of taxation. The Senate plan would let thousands of low-income Texans who use the Lone Star Card to receive food stamps and other benefits to use their electronic card to get a 40 percent sales tax reduction. Owners of apartments would be required to pass much of their tax savings to renters. But many low-income Texans aren't eligible for the Lone Star Card, and the question of tax equity merits a much closer look. The idea of expanding the tax base in exchange for lower property taxes is appealing. But Massachusetts followed that route in 1990 and quickly repealed the measure out of concern for the impact it would have on the state's economy. Florida in 1987 also broadened its sales and use tax and shortly repealed it after the increase triggered protests. "Higher sales taxes and taxing services each have consequences that affect taxpayers, jobs and the state economy," said Peggy Venable, director in Austin of the Citizens for a Sound Economy group. "The Senate school tax plan, while well-intentioned, may have some devastating unintended consequences on the state's economy. Let's take a careful look at the Massachusetts and Florida experiences. Let's look before we leap." Furthermore, the House approach will allow an opportunity to look at cutting costs and gaining efficiencies, such as consolidating small school districts and/or decentralizing massive, bureaucratic districts. One other point. There are constitutional questions about the Senate legislation. The Texas Constitution says tax bills should originate in the House.

05/11/2003
Dueling school finance plans in Texas -- which should prevail?
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Press Release

Dueling school finance plans in Texas -- which should prevail?

CSE’s message to the Texas Senators: Not Now! Two School Funding Plans in Texas: Two plans to address the school finance are at battle in the Legislature. Voters need to know how each would impact them. Here is an overview of the plans:

05/11/2003
Rockefeller Unhappy About Tax Cut Vote
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Rockefeller Unhappy About Tax Cut Vote

BY Karin Fischer

WASHINGTON -- Standing near the front of the audience, Alice Click got the chance to shake President Bush's hand. "Mr. President, West Virginia supports you. We want tax cuts, and we want jobs," the conservative activist says she told Bush. Bush wants tax cuts, too, and on Friday, Congress moved a step closer to passing its second round of tax breaks in as many years.

05/10/2003
Copyright Versus Privacy: The RIAA Cracks Open the Internet
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Press Release

Copyright Versus Privacy: The RIAA Cracks Open the Internet

In 1787, as the Founders crafted the Constitution, they took particular care to include special protections to promote innovation in “science and the useful arts” by establishing protections to allow individuals to be rewarded for their efforts. Today, however, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is wielding copyrights in ways that stifle innovation. Even worse, it has abandoned innovation in favor of a political club that now threatens the privacy of virtually every user of the Internet.

05/09/2003
TEXAS KEY VOTE ALERT
Vote “Yes” on HB 1172 by Representative Jerry Madden
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Press Release

<b>TEXAS KEY VOTE ALERT</b><br>Vote “Yes” on HB 1172 by Representative Jerry Madden

TEXAS KEY VOTE ALERTThere is a growing concern among those involved with the public education system in Texas that the social studies curriculum is increasingly coming under the influence of special interest groups with distinctly defined agendas that often times do not consider historical facts. Our schoolchildren deserve to the facts!

05/09/2003
Taxing Issues in Texas: Too Important to Rush
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Press Release

Taxing Issues in Texas: Too Important to Rush

Two major tax plans are under consideration in Austin and will impact all taxpayers across the state. Higher sales taxes and taxing services each have consequences that affect taxpayers, jobs, and the state economy. The Senate school tax plan, while well intentioned, may have some devastating unintended consequences on the state's economy. Let's look before we leap.

05/09/2003
Mark Fernald & Patrick Hynes To Headline Social Security Debate
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Press Release

Mark Fernald & Patrick Hynes To Headline Social Security Debate

New Hampshire Citizens for a Sound Economy (NH CSE) State Director Chuck McGee announced today that former State Senator and 2000 Democratic nominee for Governor Mark Fernald and former New Hampshire Republican State Committee Political Director Patrick Hynes will go head-to-head in a town hall style debate about Social Security on Saturday, May 31st.

05/09/2003
Texas Justice Foundation
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Texas Justice Foundation

It has been two years since President Bush nominated Justice Priscilla Owen for the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Texas Justice Foundation, the Free Market Foundation, Texas Citizens for A Sound Economy, and Texas Eagle Forum stand together in condemning the Senate Democrats' action in blocking a vote on the nomination by the U.S. Senate. The groups believe the Senate Democrats' action on Owen and on Miguel Estrada to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is obstruction of justice. Justice Priscilla Owen is unanimously rated as well qualified by the American Bar Association. She was overwhelmingly endorsed by Texas newspapers and overwhelmingly elected by the people of Texas. Miguel Estrada, who is also well-qualified, is a victim of ethnic discrimination. In addition to insulting the people of Texas, the procedure of not allowing their nominations to go to the full Senate subverts the advise and consent role of the Senate as a whole. Contact Information: Kelly Shackelford, Free Market Foundation -- 972-423-8889 Peggy Venable, Citizens for a Sound Economy -- 512-476-5905 Cathie Adams, Texas Eagle Forum -- 972-250-0734

05/08/2003
South Florida CSE holds first chapter meeting!
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Press Release

South Florida CSE holds first chapter meeting!

The first meeting of the Palm Beach chapter of CSE was a rousing success. Thirty eight people attended the gathering led by John Hallman, South Florida CSE Volunteer Chapter Leader. John gave a briefing on CSE’s 2003 Freedom Agenda as well as a state issue overview.

05/08/2003
South Florida CSE holds first chapter meeting!
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Press Release

South Florida CSE holds first chapter meeting!

The first meeting of the Palm Beach chapter of CSE was a rousing success. Thirty eight people attended the gathering led by John Hallman, South Florida CSE Volunteer Chapter Leader. John gave a briefing on CSE’s 2003 Freedom Agenda as well as a state issue overview.

05/08/2003

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