At a recent McAllen Tea Party Association, the members discussed each of the constitutional amendments on the November 2015 ballot.
As part of that discussion a straw poll was taken on each of the 7 amendments as to whether the association supported or did not support the passage of any particular amendment.
As an organization, the membership of the McAllen Tea Party Association voted in its straw poll to oppose the passage of Proposition 7, which is a constitutional amendment to divert sales tax money to fund the operations of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
One might ask why would the tea party association oppose funding of TxDOT which is the state agency charged with maintaining highways and roads throughout the state? Isn’t it the responsibility of state government to maintain as well as upgrade vital infrastructure such as highways and roads which are essential to the economic wellbeing of Texas?
These are very valid questions to ask of the McAllen Tea Party Association. First and foremost, the tea party association believes that our state government does have responsibility to maintain as well as upgrade the highways and roads throughout all of Texas. The association membership believes that this part of the infrastructure of the State of Texas is essential to economic growth and development. As with tea party associations across the United States, the McAllen Tea Party Association believes in the free markets and capitalism.
Second, the tea party association believes that the Texas budget should provide adequate funding for TxDOT, just as it should provide adequate funding for other state agencies to accomplish their constitutionally defined purpose. It is the responsibility of the state legislature vis-à-vis the budget process to ensure this funding.
So why does the McAllen Tea Party Association oppose Prop 7? There are several reasons why every citizen not just tea party members should oppose Prop 7 as it is stated on the November ballot. First, the ballot proposition does not state how much of the sales tax should be used to fund Tx DOT. Second, the ballot proposition does not state which portion of the sales tax will be tapped to fund the agency. Will the money come from the state or city portion of the sales tax? The ballot does not say. Third, the public has no idea of the impact of diverting sales tax dollars to TxDOT will have on other agencies that may rely on the sales tax to fund their operations. Are we robbing Peter to pay Paul?
Perhaps the most important reason why the McAllen Tea Party Association opposes Prop 7 is that the association membership recognizes that the solons in Austin have taken a politically expedient, bandaid approach to a problem that has existed for years. Members of the legislature know that tax increases are not popular, but neither are unmaintained highways and roads. So rather than using the budget process for what it is intended for – adequately funding state agencies so they can properly perform their mission our solons have taken the easy way out by looking at the sales tax as another source of revenue without spelling out the why and wherefore of their decision nor examining the long term implications of their politically motivated solution to TxDOT funding.
The public has the right to know what they are voting for or against. Prop 7 as written is fraught with unanswered questions and concerns which perhaps is what the legislature intended. Prop 7 needs to be defeated and the legislature called back into special session to come up with real solution to funding TxDOT; and yes that solution may require the solons to do something unpopular but necessary, raise taxes to preserve vital state infrastructure.