in Houston, Texas
Surcharges, fees proposed to balance Texas state budget
Friday, Mar 04, 2011, 10:49AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
Texas state Capitol

A tax by any other name is still a tax, unless you are a politician.

Caught between a climate of austerity and a budget hole of billions of dollars that are, even as we write this, being added to other billions, our state officials are trying to raise hundreds of millions of dollars using other words like fee and surcharge and eliminating things like exemptions and deductions, a clever story posted today by Texas Tribune says.

Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, D-Laredo, has promised to put an end to this kind of budgetary sleight of hand asking that the legislature and voters support an amendment to the state constitution requiring lawmakers to refer to any raising of money for government use as a tax.

Which is what the natural gas industry is calling the elimination of a gas production exemption it says would put as much as $700 million from producers in the state till.

Then there is the revival of a “quality assurance fee” for nursing homes, an ill-fated tax most recently pushed in 2007 that was estimated to be worth $400 million by charging patients $8 a day in a bid to win matching Medicaid money.

The story estimates there are another $150 million in new fees - pardon us, Rep. Raymond - taxes tucked into the nooks and crannies of both the House and Senate budgets.

Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or

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Photo of Texas state Capitol by flickr user Matt Rife, used via a Creative Commons license.
Charlie Patin
Friday, 03/04/2011 - 09:48PM

Because of the budget "shortfall" TX AgriLife Extension, is instituting at least two new "taxes":

1. All 4-H members will be required to pay a fee to join 4-H. The "tax" for this year is $20/child, starting in Oct. '11, the "tax" will be raised to $25/child. Historically 4-H has been free.

2. For Any program that is done by any group under TX AgriLife for which a fee is charged to the public to attend, I.E. CEU programs, gardening programs, livestock programs, etc a $10 tax must be sent to TAMU if the charge per person is less than $100, if the charge is over $100 a tax of 10% must be rebated to TAMU. Some programs cost have cost as little as $5 or $10 per participant. Those will now have to cost $15 and $20 respectively. If that's not taxing children and the middle class, I don't know what is. All so that Gov. Good Hair can say he didn't raise taxes. Like hell he didn't.

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