Craig Estes isn’t afraid to file a bill just to make a point.
That’s the purpose of a couple of bills the Wichita Falls state senator, whose district includes Wise County, has filed in the 83rd Texas Legislature, currently in session in Austin.
“I introduced a bill to end all fee diversions,” Estes told a roomful of Wise County residents Tuesday morning. He spoke at the DoubleTree Hotel during a breakfast for the Wise County Legislative Days.
“It would knock a $4.9 million hole in the budget, so it’s unlikely to pass.”
Estes said he has also filed a bill to gradually taper such off-budget transfers of funds and another one that just targets the tax on sporting goods. That tax, which is constitutionally dedicated to help fund state parks, has been used for years just to balance the state’s budget, while funding for parks was cut.
“It’s somewhat disconcerting when you pay a tax and it sits in an account and doesn’t do what you paid it for,” Estes said.
He also filed a bill to do away with the business margins tax.
“That one would put a $9 billion hole in the budget,” he noted, “but it would also supercharge the state’s economy.”
The tax, Estes said, is “arbitrary, complicated, it treats different businesses differently, and it hasn’t brought in the money we thought it would.”
That bill, too, is unlikely to get serious consideration, so Estes also filed a bill to use the state’s “rainy-day” fund to partially address the issue.
“If you listened to the Governor’s ‘State of the State’ address, he talked about returning some money from the rainy-day fund to the taxpayers,” Estes said. “There’s been quite a bit of head-scratching over how to do that. I propose we use the business margins tax to return $1.8 billion to the people who’ve paid it in.”
Estes noted that Gov. Rick Perry has not introduced any “emergency” items for quick consideration in this session.
“I tried to get one in there, but I was not successful,” he said. “I haven’t had much luck, in my career, telling our governor what to do.”
After a few other remarks, he hustled off to a committee hearing.