Dallas' Thin Blue Line is apparently no thinner for having one less officer today.
Police Chief David Kunkle said he terminated - fired, not, you know, offed - Officer Cory Adams on Thursday afternoon for engaging in sexual conduct while on duty and failing to place evidence in its proper place. Which, if you don't know the details and hear the two charges back to back, sounds even worse than it was.
Adams, who had been with DPD for four years and was assigned to the Southwest division, "engaged in a sexual act with a female while on duty in May of 2005 and failed to deliver drug paraphernalia to the police property room."
An analysis by The Perryman Group (TPG), an economic research firm based in Waco, reveals that a proposed tax reform measure could bring substantial benefits to the Texas economy. The plan put forth by the Texas Tax Reform Commission, chaired by former Comptroller of Public Accounts John Sharp, represents a substantial overhaul and modernization of the tax system in Texas. The plan would reduce school property taxes significantly, eliminate the current corporate franchise tax, and enact an "alternative margins tax" designed to offer a fair and equitable distribution of the business tax burden (as well as a few other items).
According to Dr. M. Ray Perryman, the President of the firm which conducted the analysis, "In addition to its role in helping to meet court-imposed mandates regarding the financing of public education, this proposal has considerable merit. By reducing property taxes and eliminating the current capital stock component of the franchise tax, it removes much of the penalty presently imposed on large, capital-intensive enterprises. As a result, it will serve as a stimulus to investment and economic development. Moreover, it spreads the burden of taxation more equitably across various sectors of the state’s business complex, thus making the system more responsive to future expansion in overall state performance and fiscal needs. The reductions in property taxes also serve as a catalyst to future real estate development. In essence, this measure, if enacted, would represent a notable milestone in moving the Texas tax structure away from an ‘industrial revolution’ model and more toward one suited for an information and technology society."
Using the Texas Multi-Regional Impact Assessment System, The Perryman Group examined the potential effects of this proposed change in the tax structure. This model was developed and is maintained by TPG and has been used in hundreds of applications over the past twenty-five years, including numerous previous tax-related studies.
The increased efficiency in the allocation of the tax burden alone results in gains to the economy (in constant 2006 dollars) of an estimated
When considered on a dynamic basis, which accounts for the real estate and economic development stimulus, the impact at maturity increases to
$10.971 billion in annual Total Expenditures;
$4.158 billion in annual Gross State Product;
$2.168 billion in annual Personal Income;
$1.640 billion in annual Retail Sales; and
48,755 in Permanent Jobs.
Additionally, these increases in business activity provide a yearly increment to State revenues of about $301.2 million, and virtually all major sectors experience net increases in output and employment. It also stimulates more than 2,000 new housing starts per year and almost 3,000 sales of existing homes.
Perryman further noted, "The process of providing adequate fiscal revenues to meet the needs of a diverse and expanding economy are quite complex, and the best approaches are often in the eye of the beholder. Nonetheless, the proposal offered by the Texas Tax Reform Commission represents a positive improvement over the current structure with regard to numerous objective criteria such as equity, efficiency, promotion of investment and development, and responsiveness to an evolving business complex. Thus, its enactment is likely to bring substantial benefits across a broad spectrum, setting the stage for a more competitive state economy for decades to come."
Students at some Texas universities face higher tuition costs as early as this fall. Today, in a 7-2 vote, University of North Texas regents approved a 5.2 percent tuition increase for 2006 and beyond. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, undergraduates taking 15 hours at UNT will pay $3,056.10
According to UNT officials, the increase in revenue will go toward the university’s budget shortfall and financial aid.
For decades Texas has needed a new tax structure that protects jobs, reflects the modern economy, spreads the responsibility of paying for schools more fairly and lightens the load of property owners. Thanks to a new plan developed by the bipartisan Texas Tax Reform Commission, today that goal is within reach.
Our tax reform proposal appeals to Texans’ sense of fairness, encourages investments in jobs and workers, discourages harmful addictions like smoking, and utilizes a portion of the existing budget surplus to give the people a well-deserved tax cut without leaving future legislatures a mountain of debt.
If the legislature adopts this plan in the upcoming special session, Texas will benefit in four principal ways. First, the way we pay for education will be fundamentally fairer because the centerpiece of our proposal – the reformed business franchise tax – is broader, more equitable and assessed at a lower rate than the tax we have today. It closes tax loopholes so more businesses will pay their share, and doubles the small business exemption so small employers can continue to grow and create jobs.
Second, this plan encourages employers to invest in people. It creates new incentives for employers to hire more Texans, invest in pensions and provide healthcare for workers and their families. In general, the more an employer spends on paychecks and worker benefits, the less they will pay in taxes.
Third, it makes homeownership more affordable for millions of Texas families by providing the largest property tax cut in Texas history. Our plan delivers $6 billion in relief, which amounts to about a 33 percent reduction on school maintenance and operations tax bills by the 2007 tax year.
And fourth, this plan dramatically increases the state share of education funding. By spreading the financial burden of paying for education across a broader cross section of the economy, and ending the over-reliance on local property tax dollars, our schools will benefit from a more reliable and stable stream of revenue.
The Texas Tax Reform Commission plan will deliver record tax relief, real tax reform and greater tax fairness for homeowners and businesses. It reduces the overall tax burden on Texans by nearly $1.5 billion. And we believe it can bridge the differences in the legislature that have caused previous efforts to falter.
By incorporating the bipartisan viewpoints of the 24-member tax commission, our plan stakes out common ground that members of both parties and both chambers of the legislature can agree upon. It does not raise the sales tax, a key priority for many Democrats. It significantly reduces the amount of property tax dollars that are redirected from one school district to another, a top goal for many Republicans. And families in every income bracket will experience tax relief, as long as they don’t consume tobacco.
If lawmakers pass this plan, the result will be more families able to afford their own home, more jobs that provide good healthcare plans and benefits, and more children excelling in schools that have the reliable revenue stream they need to succeed
We recognize that some lawmakers may want to spend the state’s entire budget surplus instead of taking up the hard work of tax reform. But that approach not only fails to provide a lasting solution to Texas’ school finance problem, it fails to match the level of property tax relief that our plan offers. And even worse, spending all of the surplus now will lead to a multi-billion budget shortfall in the near future that will likely require a large tax increase.
We ask legislators to lay aside their past differences, as we have, in pursuit of shared prosperity for Texas. And once this great challenge is resolved, in accordance with the deadline ordered by the state’s highest court, we can then turn our attention to other critical concerns such as teacher pay, raising classroom standards and improving financial accountability for taxpayers.
Our tax reform plan is fair, forward-looking and future-oriented. It provides a tax structure for a 21st century economy. It provides the substantial property tax relief that Texans deserve. And it provides the legislature a historic opportunity to shape Texas’ future for the better. We are optimistic that lawmakers will join us in this great cause.
Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, established the Texas Tax Reform Commission in September 2005 and appointed John Sharp, former Texas Comptroller and a Democrat, to chair the effort.
Conservative columnist Bob Novak calls Karl Rove the big winner in the shake-up of the Bush White House staff. Here is what Novak has to say in his column today entitled "Not the staff dreams are made of":
Everybody in Washington's Republican political community was well-aware that any changes George W. Bush made in his White House staff would not constitute a shakeup. What nobody expected was that Josh Bolten, in essence a professional bureaucrat, would be promoted to chief of staff. Yet, this selection becomes understandable as a confirmation of Karl Rove's supremacy in the White House.
Rove holds the mundane titles of senior adviser to the president and deputy chief of staff, but scarcely anything happens in the Bush administration without his approval. Now he is more influential than ever. Andrew Card, the departing chief of staff, served (as a Cabinet member) under the senior President Bush (as Rove did not). In contrast, Bolten can thank his rise in the second Bush regime to Rove, his nominal subordinate.
Looks like Dallas oilman Boone Pickens’ $165 million gift for an expanded sports stadium and “athletic village” at Oklahoma State University has stirred up Stillwater residents from a nearby neighborhood. The university is buying nearby property, which it can acquire by eminent domain, to build practice fields and new stadiums for soccer, baseball and other sports. Some of the property contains low-income housing, and property owners and tenants say they can’t afford higher housing costs. Pickens called the housing “horrible” and said it needs to be torn down. Pickens’ gift to his alma mater is the largest single donation made to a college athletic program and is half the size of the university’s entire endowment. Construction is now underway on the expanded OSU Boone Pickens Stadium. The story is featured on the front of the Wall Street Journal today.
Will Pryor, a Democratic candidate for the 32nd Congressional district criticized incumbent Congressman Pete Sessions yesterday for Sessions’ support of the House Immigration Reform Bill. Congressional supporters of the bill have intended for it to protect borders and crack down on illegal entry into the United States.
The House version of the bill changes crossing the border illegally from a misdemeanor to a felony, imposes new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and imposes criminal sanctions on church workers and social workers who aid and counsel illegal aliens.
“Two key points should be recognized,” said Pryor. “First, we must harden our borders but not our hearts. The very idea that churches and social service networks would be criminally sanction for feeding the poor is contrary both to religious principles and human decency. Certainly, the first step to meaningful reform is to get control of our borders with more border agents, better technology, and stronger enforcement of the laws.”
On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected House language that made illegal crossings a felony and that punished Samaritans who give humanitarian aide to illegal aliens.
Former Texas Supreme Court Justice Steve Smith is planning to file an election contest or a request for recount of ballots in the Republican primary race for Texas Supreme Court, Place 2. According to the Smith campaign, the election contest will be filed this week.
The Smith Campaign is alleging that there were irregularities in several counties, including Tarrant County. To date, the Smith Campaign has filed a Public Information Act request with the Tarrant County Elections Administrator “seeking to review public documents relating to the Republican Party primary election in Tarrant County.”
According to a Smith Campaign press release, 51 percent of the voting locations in Tarrant County did not have properly run audit tapes. “Serious Mistakes were made in the counting of ballots in Tarrant County. We want one fair, accurate and complete count,” said Smith.
DallasBlog recently spoke with Smith’s campaign manager, David Rogers, regarding some of the alleged irregularities in Tarrant County. Besides saying that there were as many as 100,000 phantom votes in Tarrant County, Rogers said that the votes in Tarrant were counted in a total of six “batches”. According to Rogers, some batches were counted more than once. When the second batch was counted, the first batch was counted along with second batch. When the third batch was counted, both the first batch and the second batch were again counted. Each batch that was counted after that had a total that included the votes counted in all of the previous batches.
Additionally, Rogers pointed out that, in 2004, Smith did 13 points better in Tarrant County than in any other county in the state. The current 2006 results show that Smith did 23 points worse. According to Rogers, this disparity is reason not to believe the current numbers.
Another county that could have serious voting irregularities is Winkler County. In 2002 and in 2004, Winkler County went for Smith by margins of 260-92 (74%) and 468-249 (65%) respectively. In 2006, Winkler went against Smith by a 0-273 (100%) margin.
Rogers is blaming the Republican Party Chair of Winkler County for the odd ballot count.
“I think there’s a screw up,” said Rogers. “I called the lazy son of a bitch three times and he won’t return my phone calls because he screwed up the election in Winkler County,” said Rogers. The GOP Chair of Winkler County could not be reached for comment.
When asked about the current state election code, Rogers suggested that it was out of date since it was written back when primaries were held in September. “I think it’s important for the legislature to come back and look into revisiting the election code,” said Rogers. Rogers also said that the system was unrealistic and that the legislature should look into it in the special session. “They can’t allow this problem to continue to exist in the November elections,” said Rogers.