Big Week for Texas’ Ability to Invest

This week is a tipping point for the 84th Texas Legislature. Lawmakers will weigh some game-changing bills that would affect our state’s ability to invest in our future. Budget and tax debates don’t always draw the biggest crowds of concerned Texans, but all of us have a stake in the outcomes of these policy discussions.

Despite widespread agreement that Texas needs better schools and access to health care, some lawmakers are urgently calling for tax cuts. Last week our Senior Fiscal Analyst Dick Lavine looked at several proposals that make up a $4.6 billion package of tax cuts Senate leaders introduced. This week the Senate Finance Committee is set to hear all the tax proposals, and frankly, we’re concerned.

What we’re really talking about when we say “tax cuts” is limiting Texas’ ability to invest in the programs and services every Texan needs to be healthy, well-educated and economically secure.

These cuts would undermine our great state’s ability to meet the needs of all Texans. And tax cuts leave the state unable to make these investments in our future, pushing the responsibility onto local governments (and taxpayers).

More than 30 tax policy bills will be heard by the Senate Finance Committee, with one day for public testimony on March 4. The Senate process allows three minutes of testimony per person, and this is an opportunity to make those three minutes count. The decisions the Senate makes this week will have substantial bearing on how much the Legislature will invest in our children’s education, and how much will fix the roads we use for commuting.

CPPP is diligently highlighting the state’s unmet needs and potential for investment. Our budget expert Eva DeLuna Castro points out that Texas is already a low-tax state overall. Residents in only 10 other states devote a smaller percentage of personal income to state and local taxes than Texans do.

State Policy Fellow Brakeyshia Samms notes that Texas has the third most unfair tax system in the country. Texans who are least able to afford it pay more in taxes as a percentage of their income than those who could afford to pay more.

And Senior Fiscal Analyst Dick Lavine recently used a pie – not a pie chart – to explain property tax exemptions in one of the most mouth-watering radio stories you’ve ever heard about taxes.

From tax policy to health care to education, CPPP will continue to advocate for research-based policy solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to compete and succeed in life. We hope you’ll join the chorus and tell your elected leaders to invest in the best future for our state.

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