Thursday, April 15, 2010

Your Tax Dollars At Work

An article in the Times-Free Press caught my eye: 

Bredesen floats sales tax hike on luxuries
Gov. Phil Bredesen on Wednesday asked legislative leaders to consider eliminating the local sales-tax cap on the purchase of single big-ticket items in order to raise $85 million to plug the latest state’s budget shortfall.
The plan would apply to major purchases with a value exceeding $3,200. But it specifically exempts sales of vehicles, boats and manufactured homes, administration officials said.
“We’re floating this idea to fix the budget hole — what amounts to an additional $105 million shortfall,” Bredesen press secretary Lydia Lenker said, confirming lawmakers’ accounts of the governor’s proposal. “We feel it’s a better option than what the next round of budget cuts would look like.”
The governor’s 2010-2011 budget already provides for 9 percent cuts affecting many functions of government.
Among those present at Democrat Bredesen’s weekly breakfast meeting with legislative leaders was Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, the Senate speaker, who later said, “I just don’t think it would get the votes in the state Senate.
“There’s no way in the world I could support it,” Lt. Gov. Ramsey said. “It’s the worst time in the world to be raising taxes.”
Let me get this straight.  The conversation is:

Phil:  "Hey Ron - what should we do?  Ask a guy already shelling out $30k for a backhoe to cough up another couple hundred bucks in taxes, or ask 10-year-olds to sell magazines door-to-door so their school can afford a Xerox machine?"

Ron:  "Gee, Phil, I don't know.  That's a tough one.  It sure wouldn't be right to ask the guys with all the money to pay for babysitting a bunch of whiny kids."

Actually, the answer is pretty easy.  A guy who can afford a backhoe obviously a voter to be swayed who could be tapped for some campaign contributions, to boot.  And who are we to deny those 10-year-olds such a valuable educational experience in free market economics?  We need to boost their entrepreneurial spirit!  It's what made America great!

 That this is even a "debate" is the whole problem.  Our tax structure in this state is already ridiculously regressive, slanted to the advantage of the privileged at the burden of the unprivileged.  It just underscores our state motto, "Thank God for Mississippi" - otherwise we'd be last in everything.

Edit:  Note in clarification
Bredesen's alternative is cutting all state employees' pay by 5%, not directly cutting school budgets.  My comment is geared more toward budget cutting in general versus tax increases.  We've already had kids in our neighborhood selling magazines and garbage bags door-to-door to raise money for a Xerox machine in their school.  Schools, and all other social services in this state, are in a world of hurt as it is.  The discussion should be about restoring funding to education and social services, not seeking ways to cut back even further.

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