From Harvey Kronberg’s Quorum Report:
DEUELL CALLS FOR TAX INCREASES, SPENDING RAINY DAY FUND
State Sen. Bob Deuell said today that the Republican-dominated Legislature should take a serious look at both raising taxes and raiding the Rainy Day Fund to minimize what are sure to be devastating spending cuts that threaten to undermine Texas’ social safety net.
“I’m advocating using the Rainy Day Fund – all of it,” the Greenville Republican told the Quorum Report andYNN during quick interview at the end of today’s Senate floor session. “I also think we should raise the gas tax 10 cents a gallon close loopholes in the sales tax.”
Deuell, who serves on the Senate Finance Committee and is vice chairman of Health and Human Services,acknowledges that his proposals run counter to prevailing sentiment of the state’s Republican leadership, and that even if lawmakers followed his lead, many of the proposals would be met with Gov. Rick Perry’s veto pen.
But Deuell said that he can see the likely affect of deep cuts to programs like Medicaid in both his private life as a physician and in his role as a state lawmaker.
“We’re looking at cuts to (programs for) blind kids, autistic kids, homeless kids,” he said. Even cutting so-called optional programs will have far-reaching ramifications, he said.
Later in the afternoon, members of ADAPT, an advocacy organization for Texans with disabilities, sent word that they were “occupying” the area outside Perry’s office on the second floor of the Capitol demanding that he drop his opposition to spending the Rainy Day Fund.
Deuell is not alone among Republicans in calling for tapping at least part of the Rainy Day Fund to either make up for the expected shortfall in the current fiscal year or to ease the impact of the projected $27 billion shortfall in the upcoming biennium. But his call for specific revenue-raising measures puts in him pretty rare company among the GOP.
He did make clear that calling for raising taxes does not come easy for him, but he did raise that possibility in his re-election campaign and still won easily.
“It’s not like I’m looking to raise taxes, but the guy who cuts my grass collects a sales tax and the girl who cuts my hair doesn’t,” he said. “What sense does that make.”
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