Perry pushes 2/3 vote for tax hikes
Perry has proposed that Texas copy California, and amend its constitution to require any proposed tax increase get a two-thirds vote in the Texas House and Senate to become law.
The Senate is already on the two-thirds program, for the most part. Senate tradition of the last half century or so requires a two-thirds vote to bring a bill up on the Senate floor. Once on the floor, a simple majority can pass it.
Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst has wired around that two-thirds requirement on redistricting bills, and on requiring a picture ID to vote.
The House requires only a majority vote to bring up and pass a bill.
In California, the two-thirds requirement for new taxes has gummed up the governmental works, giving a conservative anti-tax minority the ability to block just about any thoughtful ways to meet the state’s needs.
That anti-tax fervor has also undermined what once was arguably the nation’s best public school system.
Governor Perry, challenged in the primary by U. S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and anti-tax Ron Paul devotee Debra Medina, is doing his best to appeal to the most conservative elements of the potential Republican primary electorate. He knows that many– including the anti-tax Tea Party folks – think there are already too many taxes.
The governor also probably knows that the chances of getting that proposed amendment on the ballot are slim. But it’s an election year, early voting begins in less than two weeks, and the governor is an adept politician.
The governor has no official role regarding constitutional amendments. They are proposed by legislators, and need a two-thirds vote in each house to be put before Texas voters. Amendment proposals don’t require the governor’s signature, nor can he veto them.
That didn’t stop Perry from staging a “signing” of a property rights amendment proposal -- in front of the Alamo, no less -- to require a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate to pass any new laws expanding use of eminent domain to acquire private property to be turned over to non-governmental entities.
Texas voters approved the amendment in November, by a ratio of more than four to one.
Perry’s predecessor as lieutenant governor, Democrat Bob Bullock, did a tricky reverse over an income tax back in 1993. After having called for one in 1991 and taking much heat, two years later he pushed legislation to outlaw an income tax unless the Legislature proposed a referendum and voters passed it.
While some think this closed the door to a Texas income tax forever, Bullock at least upstaged other efforts to write an income tax ban into the constitution.
Had that happened, it would take a two-thirds vote in each house to ever put on the ballot an amendment to allow the tax – an almost insurmountable task, which would be the case under Perry’s proposal. Under Bullock’s scenario, a simple majority in each house can put a referendum on the ballot, rather than requiring two-thirds.
Medina apparently gained some traction as a result of getting into two TV debates. Hutchison is predicting Medina will get enough votes to throw the race into an April 13 runoff. (A Rasmussen Poll Monday, Feb. 1,, of questionable robo-call methodology, showed Perry at 44, Hutchison at 29, and Medina at 16.)
Hutchison encouraged members of the Texas Farm Bureau, which endorsed her, to follow through by getting as many other people as they can out to vote for her in the primary.
She’s also turning up the heat a notch. On Tuesday, Feb. 2, she blasted Perry three years after his abortive effort in 2007 to enforce an executive order to require girls in their early teens to be vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, or HPV.
Legislators, saying Perry was intruding on parental rights, quickly shot the idea down, and outlawed enforcement of the order until at least Jan. 11, 2011. Hutchison intimated that it came about because of a favorite Perry lobbyist, friend and former employee.
“Three years ago today, Rick Perry ordered all sixth-grade girls in Texas to get the HPV vaccine shot,” Hutchison told the Dallas County Republican Women at their monthly meeting.
“It was no coincidence that a former Perry chiefof staff was a lobbyist for the company that manufactured the vaccine,” Hutchison said, referring to Mike Toomey, who served with Perry in the Texas House, and who left the lobby for a couple of years to head Perry’s staff before going back to the lobby.
Perry said in the second debate Friday, Jan. 29, that he still thinks the HPV inoculation is a good idea.
Democratic TV Debate. . . . Dallas Public TV station KERA will host a debate Monday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. between Democratic gubernatorial candidates Farouk Shami and former Houston Mayor Bill White. It’ll be broadcast statewide on various media, including the Internet.
Left out of the talk-fab were five other candidates: Alma Aguado, Felix Alvarado, Bill Dear, Clement Glenn and Star Locke.