Monday, April 24, 2006

KURV Interview with Aaron Peña

This morning, Davis Rankin interviewed State Rep. Aaron Peña on KURV, 710 AM radio. I jotted down some notes and tried to keep up. Here is what I got regarding the quest for school finance reform.

The Rep says that Dan Patrick is leading the charge for Republican grass roots effort against the margin tax. The claim is that the Perry-Sharpe margin tax is bad for business. Currently many businesses in Texas are not taxed because they are not corporations. Meaning that they operate as LLC, LLP, and other passive income type organizatios. The proposals are basically meant to expand the tax base to include those types of businesses. Obviously, large corporations are all behind the proposals.

There are bomb throwers on both sides of the aisle. Reps on the left and right are trying to break up the coalition that is trying to push this legislation through. Any criticism about raising taxes while having a budget surplus can be fended off by pointing out that this is the Governor's plan. For those actually trying to make the legislation happen, the thinking is that either they put something out or the Supreme Court will do it for them.

The Rep's biggest concern about what is happening in Austin is that the plan that Sharp presented is not the plan before them now. It's been altered significantly. Of major concern is that the first bill has a provision that allows local entities to raise money that is not subject to recapture. This change has caused a lot of moderates to not support the bill. The coalition is both Democrats and Republican representatives from rural districts who face some of the same challenges that the RGV delegation does.

The bill with the biggest support is the third, which provides for a broad-based business tax. Some of the strong-arming going on, the Rep states, is based on the politics of getting a bill through. The house wants to have a strong bill go to the Senate, which tends to be a bit wishy washy. For now, the Rep and his allies are trying to negotiate the state school funding standard from 80% of current levels to 95% of current levels.

That's all I was able to keep up on the conversation. Aaron did mention something about marrying a bedouin lady with a mustache. I don't know what that means. I may have mixed things up. If I did, go over to his blog for clarification.
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