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Hobby school survey shows Texans views on state budget

Hobby school survey about Texas income tax Renee Josse De Lisle/The Cougar

Renee Josse De Lisle/The Cougar

As Texas looks for ways to improve its state budget, opening casino gambling to boost funds tops one of the most popular options according to a survey conducted by the Hobby School of Public Affairs. 

The survey collects the result from 1,329 Texan adults to appraise 18 proposals meant for augmenting state budget through tax revenue, and opening casino gambling for the state budget gauged support from 70 percent of the Texans who took it.

Senior director of the Hobby School of Public Affairs Renée Cross said the survey holds significance in helping legislators produce policies based on majority opinions. 

“I can say that surveys such as this one helps to inform policymakers on the issues of most concern to Texans, as well as to identify potential revenue enhancements with popular support,” Cross said.

“This type of information is especially important during a regular state legislative session, which occurs biennially,” Cross added.

To vitalize a more substantial budget for the state as well as to tackle the deficit of $1 billion, the Hobby school survey concludes that five sources gain the most support from the people of Texas. 

Introducing a tax on e-cigarettes and vaping products holds 84 percent of support among Texans. Second to this is closing current property tax loopholes that big companies use to lower their property taxes, with 83 percent of support.

Poll attendees agreeing to impose a higher tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products comes third with 72 percent of support.

On that note, Texas has been among nine other states prohibiting casino gambling.

Opening casinos to boost the state budget fund is likely to stumble upon the opposition of the leaders. However, demographic changes can bring some hope for this endeavor. 

“Texas has long had a traditional political culture, which does not support gambling. However, as the demographics of the state have changed along with subsequent changes in political ideology and partisanship, activities such as gambling have gained statewide support,” Cross said.

Another 18 percent of Texans favor an expansion of gambling in Texas if it is limited to Indigenous reservations and existing horse or dog racing tracks, Cross said.

“Key leaders such as Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick do not support an expansion of gambling at this time. Without the support of the lieutenant governor, it is doubtful that any bill expanding gambling will pass in the state Senate,” Cross said. 

The political climate also plays a big role in examining the reception of said proposals.

Legalizing recreational marijuana faces strenuous opposition shown in the survey, in which there is only 44 percent of support coming from Republicans, while 83 percent of Texan Democrats thumb up this idea.

Cross said there are still dry areas in counties that do not allow the sale of alcohol in Texas, and laws in the state are promoted by religious or conservative groups to protect what they believe to be family values.

“Texas has had a history of a prevalent traditional political culture, which typically values the status quo along with an aversion for the legalization of activities related to ‘sinful’ activities,” Cross said.

“Given these traditions, it is not surprising that many conservative Republicans do not support the legalization of marijuana,” Cross added.

Other states such as New Hampshire, Tennessee, Wyoming, Washington, South Dakota, Nevada and Florida impose no tax on individual income.

82 percent of Texans oppose this proposal in which 71 percent strongly disagree and state income tax remains the most unpopular choice to subsidize state budget, according to the Hobby school report. 

“Part of the opposition comes from the fear that we would pay much more with a state income tax, although our reliance on property taxes is worrisome to some economists,” Cross said.

“The opposition is also in part an aversion to change as well as the notion of big government, which dates back to the state’s post-Reconstruction policymakers.”

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