To be fair to lawmakers, it's not easy making the tough spending choices in these dire times of rising public need and inadequate tax revenues. Legislators in my state of Texas, for example, are trying to find $27 billion in cuts and new revenue to balance an already-miserly budget.
To be fair to lawmakers, it’s not easy making the tough spending choices in these dire times of rising public need and inadequate tax revenues. Legislators in my state of Texas, for example, are trying to find $27 billion in cuts and new revenue to balance an already-miserly budget.
So, assume you’re a member of the Texas house. What needy constituency would you try to help – school kids, poor people, old folks in nursing homes… or yacht buyers? Yes, yachts. Big yachts – those costing more than $250,000. You might not be surprised to learn that the Republicans, who have a supermajority in the House, went with yacht buyers.
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Some days when you read the news, you don’t know whether to go crazy, go bowling, or just go very far away – and this was one of those days. Rep. John Davis, a Houston Republican, passed his bill in committee to give a sales tax break to yacht purchasers. I should note that this tax break is available to anyone, whether rich or poor, so I guess it’s fair. But is it really necessary? Using both of his brain cells at once, Davis explains that it is. You see, he says that Florida already provides such a tax giveaway to the yachting crowd, so our state must match it lest Texans go there for their purchases. Davis proudly adds that he sees his bill as an “economic development” measure for our people.
Okay, he’s a goofball, but were there no adults in the room? Uh-uh. The committee chairman just shrugged his sorry shoulders and said the yacht break is “one of those things you have to do.”
The house budget will take away college aid for 60,000 students, eliminate nearly 100,000 teachers and other school employees, and shortchange health care for poor people by $14 billion dollars – but we’ve got your yacht covered. You see, it’s simply a matter of getting your priorities straight.
“Yacht tax break gets early OK,” Austin American Statesman,” April 30, 2011.
“During Budget Crisis, Texas House Committee Passes Tax Break For Yacht Owners,” www.thinkprogress.org, May 2, 2011.