Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Texas at the top of its own game

According to an article today El Paso Times, Texas ranks first in the nation for child population growth, uninsured children, the amount of toxins emitted by manufacturers, clean water permit violations, executions, and job discrimination lawsuits (also from today). It ranks dead last in high school graduation rates, the percentage of the population with health insurance, and the average consumer credit score.

The article quotes Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso) blaming the heavily regressive tax system currently in place. One thing I didn't know until recently was that Texans approved a consitutional amendment pushed by then-Lt. Bob Bullock in 1993 to approve a personal income tax. Article 8, Section 24 of the Texas Constitution allows for the state to implement an income tax that is determined by the voters, who would have to vote for each increase. However, legislation containing a personal income tax would have to be passed the Legislature.

I found that fact out from reading a recent 2005 policy brief by Dick Lavine of the Center for Public Policy Priorities [PDF] arguing for a small income tax. Why? Because according to that article, Texas is 49th in tax revenue collected, despite its enormous population.

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