The Big Conversation
Texans in this month's University of Texas/Texas Tribune Poll made clear that the property tax is their least favorite tax. The only other tax to be disliked by voters more than it is liked is the business margins tax.
"The results suggest the rationale behind legislative efforts to cut those taxes, like one announced Tuesday by state Senate leaders who want to reduce revenue from those two taxes by a combined $4.6 billion," wrote the Tribune's Ross Ramsey. "Asked how they feel about the amount of various state and local taxes in Texas, 54 percent said they are dissatisfied with property taxes — and only 33 percent said they were satisfied about those bills."
That contrasts significantly with perceptions of the sales tax, where 57 percent were satisfied and 34 percent were dissatisfied. Voters were also markedly more satisfied than dissatisfied with taxes on alcohol and tobacco as well as on motor fuels.
Not surprising was the finding that three-fourths of voters thought traffic congestion is a serious problem.
Where it gets interesting is how voters assign blame for traffic being as bad as it is.
Ramsey wrote, "Most — 71 percent — blame their area’s congestion on people wanting to live and work there, and 67 percent attribute it to economic growth ... Voters were less likely to blame policy decisions. Just over half agreed that insufficient spending on road maintenance adds to congestion; 48 percent said insufficient spending on new roads adds to the problem; and 42 percent agreed that insufficient spending on public transportation is a factor."
Disclosure: UT-Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
The Day Ahead
• The House convenes at 10 a.m.; the Senate convenes at 11 a.m.
• House Appropriations meets at 7:30 a.m. to consider budget recommendations dealing with the judiciary (E1.030). Appropriations subcommittees meet afterward — on adjournment of HAC, Article III (E1.030); on final adjournment, Articles I, IV & V (E1.018); at 11 a.m. or on final adjournment, Article II (JHR 131); and at 1:30 p.m. or on final adjournment, Articles VI, VII & VIII (JHR 100).
• House Government Transparency & Operation meets at 2 p.m. or on final adjournment where cooperative contracts will be discussed with the Department of Information Resources, the Legislative Budget Board and the State Auditor's Office (E1.014).
• Senate Finance meets at 9 a.m. to consider the state's regulatory agencies, including the Racing Commission, the Department of Insurance, the Public Utility Commission and the Texas Medical Board (E1.036).
• Senate Transportation meets at 8 a.m. to hear Chairman Robert Nichols' proposed constitutional amendment and legislation dedicating a portion of the motor vehicle sale tax to building roads (E1.016)
Lawmakers Want Property Tax Cut Folks Notice, by Aman Batheja
Lawmakers Push "Right to Try" Experimental Drugs, by Edgar Walters
No Agency Tasked with Enforcing Perry's E-Verify Order, by Julián Aguilar
Education Chair Defends High School Graduation Rates, by Eva Hershaw and Morgan Smith
Abbott, Senate Leaders Tout Road Funding Plans, by Ryan McCrimmon and Aman Batheja
Despite Low Prices, Texas Oil Group Stays Optimistic, by Jim Malewitz
Campbell Faces Skepticism of Alamo Protection Proposal, by Eva Hershaw
After 24 Years, Van de Putte Bids Farewell, by Alexa Ura
Texas Senate Leaders Propose $4.6 Billion in Tax Breaks, by Morgan Smith
‘American Sniper’ Jury Finds Ex-Marine Guilty of Murder, The New York Times
Tensions rise on the picket line as strike continues, Houston Chronicle
Dan Patrick: Protect marriage, oppose abortion, Austin American-Statesman
President vetoes Keystone XL legislation, and the fight goes on, Houston Chronicle
Deep cuts could be on table as Congress re-evaluates food stamp program, The Dallas Morning News
Time to fast-forward Texas election laws?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Top Texas GOP fundraiser says he’ll back Cruz White House run, The Dallas Morning News
Quote to Note
“Dios y Tejas. It has been an honor to serve with you for the people of this great state.”
— State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, in saying goodbye to her colleagues. Tuesday was her last day in the chamber, closing a 24-year legislative career.
Today in TribTalk
Honor the dignity of the workers who build Texas, by Emily Timm
Trib Events for the Calendar
• Immigration: The Next Five Years on Feb. 27 at at the University of Texas at Brownsville
• A Conversation With State Sen. Kel Seliger and State Rep. John Zerwas on March 5 at the Austin Club
• On the Road: A Symposium on Water on March 10 at Texas State University in San Marcos
• Meet the Mayors: Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price on March 12 at The Austin Club
• A Conversation With UT-Austin Dell Medical School Dean Clay Johnston on March 26 at The Austin Club