Bad Takes: Texas May Have No Income Tax, But Most Residents Pay More Taxes Than Californians | Texas News | San Antonio
Editor’s Note: Bad Takes is a column of opinion and analysis.
I I guess the problem was that we Americans didn’t have self-proclaimed proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed millionaire.” — John SteinbeckAn introduction to the 1930s
Cutting Texans’ exorbitant property taxes has become the atypically bipartisan watchword of the gubernatorial race. Democratic candidate Beto O’Rourke and Republican incumbent Governor Greg Abbott are promising voters eager for relief.
“Ad valorem” is an old Latin term that means “according to the value of your shit,” and when the appraised value of your shitty house suddenly skyrockets, so does your shitty ad valorem tax bill.
For some unknown reason the four justices of the United States Supreme Court who dissented when setting a precedent in 1973 San Antonio Independent School District vs. Rodriquez Case, Texas has chosen to derive most of its funding for its local schools from taxes on neighboring properties. This is great if you live next to multi-million dollar real estate. It’s less than great if you live in Section 8 housing. For the five-judge majority, the equal protection clause was an old American term meaning “you’re on your own.”
Half a century later, Texas still has no progressive income tax, and wealth-protecting governors still campaign on the plight of the beleaguered taxpayer. Voters are well within their rights to ask an awkward and obvious question: Why didn’t Abbott address this issue during his seven years as president of a state with a one-party Republican regime?
Maybe because not solving the problem allows the GOP to sing its favorite tune whenever there’s an election-time budget surplus: “It’s your money, you have to decide how to spend it at better.” Except, dear leaders, we chose to give you this money so that you could keep the lights on, keep the air and water clean, and keep the school children semi-literate and semi-aware of the history of the United States .
Abbott’s flawless reasoning seems to have trickled down to our own San Antonio City Council, which recently decided to pay the average CPS Energy customer the exorbitant sum of $29 on his next electric bill instead of, say, , to invest these aggregate tens of millions of dollars in weatherization. , which would allow us to save several times that ridiculous discount on the road. The 40 Largest Companies in Bexar Countyhowever, will get away with around $100,000 apiece.
To gauge the exact length and width of the shaft, Texas can expect twice as many hot days over 100 degrees by 2036, according to the Heat Factor climate risk assessment database, set up by a former Weather Channel executive. Apparently, economic forecasts can look much more optimistic if you ignore sustainability.
But at least we can take comfort in knowing that we are better off fiscally than the People’s Republic of California, right? RIGHT?
As pesky facts would have it, the high property taxes and regressive sales taxes that Texans pay mean that all but the luckiest of us pay a higher effective tax rate than Californians. If your household earns less than $55,000 a year, for example, more than 10% of what you earn is directed to the state capital. If you’re in the top 1%, only 3% do. That must be what Texas Republicans mean by “tax fairness.”
California Governor Gavin Newsom gloated as much during his appearance at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin earlier this month. “Your bills are higher in Texas than in California for residential electricity,” he even added to touch on things.
Texans pay $154, while Californians pay $123, according to a recent analysis by the financial site WalletHub.
While California had no blackouts in 2021 and 2022, six of Texas’ power plants shut down due to extreme heat in May. And the Texas freeze in February of last year caused nearly $200 billion in damage and killed hundreds of people. Renewable energy sources, including wind and solar, have saved us from a much worse disaster.
Now, it’s true that when the world’s most popular podcaster, Joe Rogan, moved from Los Angeles to Austin, he saved about $13 million on his state taxes. And Rogan’s compadre in pandemic disinformation, Elon Musk, saved at least $1.1 billion with his recent move to the Lone Star State. That surely buys a lot of ill-fitting cowboy hats.
But they are – not most readers of this column. And if you’d like to wipe that annoying smile off Gavin Newsom’s face as much as I do, remember that you and I, Rogan and Musk, each get a ballot in November.
“It is hard to believe that if the children of Texas had free choice, they would choose to be educated in districts with fewer resources,” Judge Thurgood Marshall wrote in his dissent to the San Antonio Independent School District vs. Rodriquez Case. “The fact that a child forced to attend an underfunded school with poorer physical facilities, less experienced teachers, larger class sizes and a narrower range of lessons than a school with far more funds may nevertheless excel is all to the credit of the child, not of the State. Indeed, who will ever be able to measure for such a child the opportunities lost and the talents wasted for lack of a broader and more enriched education?
In terms of opportunity costs, imagine how different a country would be if funding schools with property taxes was ruled unconstitutional 49 years ago and low- and middle-income students had far more benefits. materials to grow.
Or if, 28 years ago, Democrat Ann Richards hadn’t lost the governorship of Texas to Republican George W. Bush, whom five judges saw fit to nominate president, leaving disasters in his wake. Middle East in New Orleans.
Let’s not let our failure elect Beto O’Rourke become an equally consequential regret in retrospect.
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