TEA Party advocates say new debt the same as new taxes

Monday, April 15, 2013

UPDATE: Fleming said after the news conference that Judson wasn’t part of it, but simply was in the room. He didn’t speak at the news conference — not everyone there spoke — but we talked afterward. Ms. Fleming said the other advocates there don’t support any increase in the gas tax and vehicle registration fees.

Gov. Rick Perry
As Gov. Rick Perry prepared to talk about tax cuts, a tea party coalition on Monday said that increased debt for transportation as proposed by Perry and leading lawmakers is the same as a tax increase.
“Any vote that adds debt to this state – any vote for any program that’s going to be leveraging debt or adding debt — will be considered by the tea parties of Texas as a vote for a tax increase,” said JoAnn Fleming, chair of the advisory committee to the Texas Legislature’s Tea Party Caucus. “And you know how we feel about that.”

The San Antonio Tea Party, which was part of the Capitol news conference, called for state leaders and lawmakers to find $4 billion annually for new road capacity even if that requires a fee increase.

“We categorically oppose new taxes to grow the size of government. However, current Texas transportation policy is already silently increasing our taxes to pay for debt and toll roads that require huge taxpayer subsidies,” said Jeff Judson, senior vice president of the San Antonio Tea Party. “We have never seen a tax increase that would shrink government spending – until now.”

Terri Hall of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom said Perry’s tax cut talk “is just political pandering.” She said that debt “absolutely is a deferred tax hike. Somewhere down the road, our transportation taxes are going to have to be through the roof to ever hope to pay that back.”

Bob Hall of Tea Parties of Texas said his group’s top priority is to “weed out” lawmakers who raise taxes, increase spending and reduce personal liberties.

“We need to have some spending cuts,” he said.

Gov. Rick Perry in his State of the State address proposed taking $3.7 billion from the rainy day fund to for water and road projects. He has said the state could take advantage of low interest rates to capitalize a revolving infrastructure fund using long-term bonds.

He also has suggested dedicating future growth in the motor vehicle sales tax to roads. Tea party advocates said they back this approach, although they want to be sure the money wouldn’t finance debt.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands, has filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would take $6 billion from the rainy day fund for such projects. Leaders have pointed to traffic congestion that state transportation officials say would need billions to address, and a long-neglected water plan.


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