Lawmakers Pitch Income Tax, School Finance Reform Plan
Quixotes saddle up their horses
"I'm amazed by the variety of people who tell me privately that they like my income tax plan," Rodriguez said, referring to his proposed legislation (HB 90), which he admits has virtually no chance of passing out of the House Public Education Committee. Undaunted by the grim prognosis, Rodriguez and Shapleigh vowed to keep pressing their arguments throughout the school finance debate. The issue is gaining popularity among some teachers' groups, as well as realtors whose livelihoods would benefit from the property tax reductions that would follow the creation of an income tax.
Critics of both the education bill and its tax companion (HB 2 and HB 3, respectively) say the current package would provide benefits to homeowners and upper-income residents while failing to address equitable funding for schools. "What this debate should be about is great schools, not lowering property taxes for the wealthy," Shapleigh said. The El Paso senator says he's been selling the income tax idea to a growing number of receptive audiences across the state. The existing tax system, he said, "is outdated, terribly regressive, and inadequate to educate our children."