Remember the Rain Tax? It's Back and You Won't like the Sequel!
by Bob Price on September 16, 2010 at 5:57 PM
A sequel is rarely as good as the original story. In the case of the once proposed Houston Rain Tax, the sequel recently announced by Houston City Council is a nightmare waiting to be unleashed on all residents of Houston. The new proposal will appear on the November 2nd Ballot for Houston voters as Proposition 1 and is backed by a well-financed group called Renew Houston. Their proposal calls for the creation of a dedicated street and drainage fund. Sound great, right? You might think so; until you look at the details (or lack thereof) as to how this fund will be paid for and managed.
Of course, no one can debate the need for better drainage and roads in Houston. Our city's heavy rains are famous for turning streets and highways into rivers and lakes. And certainly, anyone who drives Houston's city streets knows of the need to improve our roads. And, with the conditions of some of our roads, it is no wonder you see so many Hummers running about. But, isn't this what the city was supposed to already be doing with our tax money? Isn't city infrastructure one of the PRIMARY FUNCTIONS of the city government? Infrastructure and public safety should be the top priorities of city government. Yet, when financial times get tough, the city tells us they are going to have to make cuts in fire and police services. Or, we are going to have to raise new money to take care of our roads and drainage. WHAT?! The first job of the city is to budget for the costs of its primary responsibilities. Then, if you need to raise funds or cut costs in some other areas, come back to us with that!
In 2003, former Mayor Lee Brown proposed what amounted to a Rain Tax to be assessed in the form of a fee on the water bill. Over 44,000 Houston voters joined together to petition the city to stop this process and succeeded in killing the proposal. Here it comes again, but the framers of the new Prop 1 seemed to have learned some Big Government lessons from Nancy Pelosi and Barrack Obama about how to write open ended proposals. Would you trust Pelosi and Obama with a blank check? I certainly wouldn't! But now, Renew Houston wants you to trust Mayor Parker and the Houston City council with just that, a blank check!
The proposed fee is really a new tax, but it is much worse that a tax. Because it is a fee, it doesn't fall under tax increase restrictions so government can raise the fees whenever they want, to whatever they want. And, because it isn't at tax; your church, your schools and your hospitals (along with every other tax exempt charity) will also be assessed with these onerous fees. At this time, there are no clear definitions about how the "fee" will be calculated or collected. We are being told about a "Matrix of Numbers" to be used in the calculations. Doesn't that sound like a blank check to you?
Once the proposal is passed (and it seems we have to pass it before we can find out what is in it) the citizens of Houston will be stuck with this program for the next 20 years. But wait! It's not just 20 years because the program automatically renews unless you can get 2/3rds of the City Council to vote to terminate this governmental cash cow. What do you think the likelihood of that will be?
Between now and the November 2nd election, TexasGOPVote will report on as many of the details of this proposition as we can learn and bring you some real numbers to look at when deciding whether to open your bank account to more big government spending projects. Projects, by the way, that should have already been paid for by tax monies you have already paid.
Nancy Pelosi told us we had to pass the Healthcare bill so we could find out what is in it. The City of Houston wants to do the same thing with Prop 1. Does this sound like open and honest city government? Or is it just another runaway tax and spend program? It is time we demand government spend our money wisely. We must have clearly defined goals and realistic cost projections. The days of trusting government with a blank check are over and we must let them know by VOTING NO on Prop 1.