AUSTIN – On the heels of gloomy employment reports and forecasts, the Texas Public Policy Foundation asked Texas Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus to stop further consideration of tax increases that could weaken an already shaky state economy.

"With Texas businesses and families facing such economic stress, our state government needs to send a clear message that it understands their plight and will not add to their financial burdens," wrote Justin Keener, the Foundation's Vice President of Policy and Communications, in the attached letter to the two leaders. "We must not send any signal to the markets, businesses, or public that Texas is even thinking about raising taxes."

Keener cited the local option transportation tax proposals – specifically SB 855 by Sen. John Carona (R-Dallas), which Carona told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on February 25th would soon be heard in his Transportation and Homeland Security committee – as prime examples of negative signals that could hinder Texas' economic recovery.

"This proposal, and its companion bill – HB 9 by Rep. Vicki Truitt – would create a mechanism that could impose substantial tax increases for anyone living in or moving to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex," Keener said.

The Foundation identified several alternatives that would generate additional funding for transportation projects:

– End the diversion of transportation taxes and fees to non-transportation functions; – Identify opportunities for cost savings within state and local transportation entities and their respective contracting processes; and – Rely on true user fees such as tolls and train fares that connect the actual user to the transportation service they receive.

"We urge you to join with us in sending a message to Texas citizens and employers that the state has no plans to take more of their hard-earned money, and that instead, government will do the heavy lifting necessary to make sure that Texans' tax dollars are being spent wisely," Keener said.

Justin Keener is Vice President of Policy and Communications for the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a non-profit, free-market research institute based in Austin. More information can be found on the Foundation's website,

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