The solution to our deficit is taxing
Texas is struggling to keep things in order. The budget shortfall for the state of Texas in the next two-year period is projected to be as high as $27 billion. The Republican-dominated government has stood firm on their pledge to refrain from any new taxes, and cutting programs or services doesn’t seem to be an option.
If the government does in fact begin to cut across the board, what will they cut from? Education accounts for 41 percent of the current budget, with health and human services following close behind at 32.
That’s almost three quarters of the 2010-2011 budget tied up in two extremely important services. According to Moak, Casey & Associates, a school finance-consulting firm, the draft budget assumes no new taxes and over the next two years will take 9.8 billion dollars from schools — and could potentially cost the jobs of 100,000 school district employees.
In addition to these atrocious cuts to the public schools, Medicaid is likely to take a large hit due to the budget crisis. According to Chris Tomlinson of the Associated Press, “Hospitals and doctors will likely absorb the 2.8 billion the state plans to cut from Medicaid programs. The state is also considering reducing what it pays doctors and hospitals to treat Medicaid patients by 10 percent.” These cuts are taking place in some of the most vital areas of state services, and there has to be a more reasonable way to start hacking away at the deficit.
Although one solution to this problem may seem like an outrageous idea, it is a common act. It’s called an income tax. Texas is one of seven states that does not have an income tax. While going as far as the 11 percent income tax in Hawaii is unnecessary and steep, a progressive income tax, where the rates grow as income grows, is a very reasonable option.
Granted, there should be a limit on how much someone pays. For example, if you make more than $100,000 per year, your rate would only increase as high as that first $100,000. While the income tax seems like a plausible solution, there is one drawback.
The Texas Constitution does not allow an income tax. In order for a state income tax to become a reality, a variety of votes must occur. Additionally, according to the constitution, “The legislature may provide for the taxation of income in a manner which is consistent with federal law.”
And if such taxes were to be put in place, after a certain length of time, according to Section 24 G. of the Texas constitution, “The remaining money after the dedication of money from the tax shall be used to support education.” Now, even though Texas doesn’t have an income tax, it is possible under the constitution. What’s more important? Saving your home state, or saving a small percent of money?