Yet another daffy tax idea at City Hall

My guess is that you don’t know a whole lot about the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Lagomorpha, family Leporidae, genus Lepus.

But if you’re into the mental and emotional self-flagellation of following city government, you have instinctual knowledge of the hare, because of so many hare-brained ideas hopping from the portals of City Hall.

Latest, of course, is the utter insanity of wanting to levy a city sales tax on gasoline. To call that hare-brained is to insult the intelligence of hares.

Take one of the poorest cities in the United States and slap a new tax on the residents. Yeah, that makes sense. Make the poor a little poorer and decrease the quality of life for everyone.

It’s interesting to note that while this brain glitch jackrabbits around City Hall, U.S. Rep. Don Young of Alaska is calling for an increase in the federal gasoline tax, currently 18.4 cents a gallon, to more than 33 cents per gallon by 2009. How cute, one would complement the other.

And it’s little known that during the 77th Texas legislative session, HB 1682 was introduced, a measure that would have raised the current 20-cent-per-gallon state gas tax to 25 cents. Fortunately, it didn’t make it. But keep an eye on this 78th Legislature, which soon will be casting about desperately for ways to offset an estimated $9.9 billion budget shortfall. Don’t bet that a higher gasoline tax won’t be in the legislators’ bag of tricks.

Citizens for a Sound Economy said that if such a tax is passed:

Only four states would pay higher gas taxes than Texas;

The average family of four would pay $1,164 per year in gas taxes;

and, since it’s a regressive tax, farmers, ranchers and the lower-income would pay a disproportionate share.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation determined that there would be a net loss of 29,190 jobs to the statewide tax increase, and even those who don’t own a car would feel the pinch in higher prices at the store due to transportation-cost increases. Even riding the bus would become more expensive.

It’s not hard to see the same kinds of things happening in El Paso should we be short-sighted enough to continue taxing ourselves into oblivion.

Latest pastime — For those people who constantly cavil and whine that there’s nothing to do in El Paso, I submit:

The new and expensive, bond-issue-financed canopy at Cohen Stadium is finished, just in time for El Paso’s windy season.

When a windstorm is forecast, or you sense a subtly increasing breeze as you watch Abrams A1 main battle tanks blown off railcars, wend your way to Cohen and watch The Canopy.

You might recall how a windstorm shredded The Canopy last year when it was almost up. My personal theory is that Mother Nature regarded it as an eyesore besmirching her beautiful Franklin Mountains, took umbrage and puffed it away.

People who installed The Canopy this latest time maintain it will withstand a 150-mph wind. We shall see. But meanwhile, it gives something for El Pasoans to do during an idle moment; what else is there to do during a windstorm? And by the amusement and diversion it has provided, and no doubt will again, it has improved our quality of life which, after all, was the goal of the bond issue.

Charlie Edgren is an editorial writer for the El Paso Times. E-mail address: