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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/27/10

Texas Gov. Perry Misusing Tax Dollars

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John Basel
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Texas Gov. Perry Misusing Tax Dollars

I previously wrote that in December, I received a tax increase notice from the Texas Workforce Commission. As an employer I will have to pay nearly $800 more in unemployment insurance taxes this year. This could have been avoided if we didn't have a governor who wasn't more interested in political grandstanding than the interests of Texans.

As part of the federal stimulus program initiated last year, Texas could have taken $556 million dollars in federal money to ease the burden on the state's unemployment fund due to the increase in unemployment claims brought on by the recession.

But our governor, Rick Perry, in a highly televised event, turned the free money down. Why? Political motivations aside, he said it had strings attached. - Strings that would have required increasing the number of people eligible for unemployment benefits (like this is a bad thing?). Then, he said, when the money ran out business owners would have to continue to foot the bill for the increased numbers of beneficiaries.

That seemed logical to some at the time but the media failed to ask the simple question, "What would have been so hard about ending the program when the money ran out?" Perry and his partisan hacks didn't want to consider that because it would make the federal program seem like a good idea. - An idea that would have benefited 45,000 Texans who needed the financial help until they could get another job and it might have avoided this tax increase to all Texas businesses.

So now, Texas business owners are all facing another Rick Perry tax hike. Yes, another one. Perry also increased taxes on businesses when he replaced the Franchise tax with the Margin tax, the first corporate income tax in the history of Texas. Yes, the Margin Tax IS an income tax on corporations.

Now, Bill White, Democratic candidate for governor, is revealing how Perry siphoned off over $161 million from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and used it to pad his Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF), a code name for corporate welfare. The TEF subsidizes companies hand-picked by Perry, who agree to increase employment sometime in the future. Many never meet their goals. Even as demands on the unemployment fund were growing last year, more than $52 million was diverted to the TEF for this purpose.

Subsidies have been given to now failed sub-prime lenders Countrywide and Washington Mutual and more recently insurance giants Nationwide and Allstate. Texas is still waiting to see the job creation. I wonder how much of that TEF money has made it back to Perry in the form of campaign contributions.

Ironically, Texas has now had to borrow $2.1 billion in federal stimulus funds to pay unemployment claims because the unemployment fund is empty. There was no press conference to announce that.

The TEF has $200 million in it. Meanwhile, the Texas Workforce Commission has warned they may need to raise payroll taxes again this year.

As Bill White suggests, Perry should give back the diverted funds to help prevent another tax increase on Texas businesses.

Please, fellow Texans, kick Governor Perry out of office come the next election! I can't afford him!

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A graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo with an MBA in 1980, John went into the banking business from 1981-1991. John went into the gymnastics business with his wife, with whom he has two children, in 1992 and grew it enough (more...)

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