Senator Ellis Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 2, 2011
Contact: Jeremy Warren, 512-463-0113

Senate Finance Debates Ellis Plan to Scrub, Sunset and Repeal Scores of Tax Breaks

SJR 53/SB 1051 creates a Commission on Periodic Tax Preference Review on tax breaks

(Austin, Texas)—The Senate Finance Committee today debated legislation by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) which will scrub, sunset and possibly repeal scores of preferential tax breaks in the Texas budget. A vote is expected later this week.

Senate Joint Resolution 53 would:

"The Texas Tax Code contains several preferential tax breaks that were inserted into the code in the distant past, but live on long past the time the rationale become unjustified spending programs 'hidden' within the tax code. These breaks cost Texas billions of dollars in revenue and may provide no real economic benefit. It is long past time to scrub the tax code for all such wasteful provisions."

There are potentially billions in tax breaks, loopholes and exemptions in the Texas Tax Code, including:

State agencies are subjected to a "sunset review" every twelve years to determine their effectiveness, and if the agency's functions need to be continued. The tax code would benefit from a similar periodic review of all its exemptions, exclusions, and special treatments to answer one simple question--are they working?

With a record budget deficit, Texas has an obligation to take a serious look at whether or not it responsible fiscal policy to spend billions of dollars in tax giveaways to profitable corporations, before we are cut vital services for Texas Families. Texas is currently contemplating deep cuts to public education, health and human services and other vital services. SJR 53 puts the same level of scrutiny and accountability measures key programs must undergo onto tax subsidies.

"Our current budget crisis demands that we be as prudent as possible with all our tax expenditures and giveaways," said Ellis. "We need to be honest about what these tax breaks really are--they are budget appropriations tucked into the tax code. These folks are getting an appropriation, budget cycle after budget cycle, outside of the budget process, without having to go through the same level of scrutiny as every other group looking for appropriations."

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