The Conservative Case for Raising Taxes

Has Texas entered a new era in which talking new revenue doesn't equal certain political death?
Mon March 25, 2013 9:15 am

“Penny-wise, pound-foolish!” is emerging as a rallying cry for Texas’s fiscal conservatives this session.

Not the catchiest slogan, perhaps, but it does have a certain resonance in an abstemious state like Texas, where the only thing less popular than a modest tax increase is the prospect of a bigger tax increase a few years from now.

Case in point: Kevin Eltife, a Republican state senator from Tyler, and the gas tax. In February, speaking at a transportation conference in Austin, he said that  the state should think about raising the gas tax, maybe by a dime, to generate more revenue for Texas roads.

Developments in the intervening weeks suggest that we may be entering a new chapter in Texas history. Not a chapter in which legislators are quick to raise taxes, obviously, but a chapter in which a legislator can publicly mull the idea without being sent to walk the plank. Texas has not raised the gas tax since 1991, and in recent years occasional murmurs about doing so have been quickly shushed up in the Capitol.

In this case, Eltife’s comments attracted the predictable backlash from Michael Quinn Sullivan of the


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