Monday, 01 October 2007 19:11

SRJ 29 - A hard look at a bad bill!

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SRJ 29 - A hard look at a bad bill!

Proposition 9, S.R.J 29 is a bad bill and I'll tell you why. Below is the relevant section containing the proposed changes to the Texas State Constitution. I have copied it here; however, you are free to go to the source. Texas State Legislature 80R Bill Text S.R.J 29 or you can skip right to read more for the analysis.

(b)The Legislature may, by general law, exempt property owned by a disabled veteran or by the surviving spouse and surviving minor children of a disabled veteran. A disabled veteran is a veteran of the armed services of the United States who is classified as disabled by the Veterans' Administration or by a successor to that agency [;] or by the military service in which the veteran[he] served. A veteran who is certified as having a disability of less than 10 percent is not entitled to an exemption. A veteran having a disability rating of not less than 10 percent but less[nor more] than 30 percent may be granted an exemption from taxation for property valued at up to $5,000. A veteran having a disability rating of not less [more] than 30 percent but less [not more] than 50 percent may be granted an exemption from taxation for property valued at up to $7,500. A veteran having a disability rating of not less [more] than 50 percent but less[not more] than 70 percent may be granted an exemption from taxation for property valued at up to $10,000. A veteran who has a disability rating of [more than] 70 percent or more, or a veteran who has a disability rating of not less than 10 percent and has attained the age of 65, or a disabled veteran whose disability consists of the loss or loss of use of one or more limbs, total blindness in one or both eyes, or paraplegia, may be granted an exemption from taxation for property valued at up to $12,000. The spouse and children of any member of the United States Armed Forces who dies while on active duty may be granted an exemption from taxation for property valued at up to $5,000. A deceased disabled veteran's surviving spouse and children may be granted an exemption which in the aggregate is equal to the exemption to which the veteran was entitled when the veteran died.

The Analysis - Change Set 1

A disabled veteran is a veteran of the armed services of the United States who is classified as disabled by the Veterans' Administration or by a successor to that agency [;] or by the military service in which the veteran[he] served.

The first change is significant--the semi-colon/by. This broadens the scope of potential benefactors because a veteran is given the choice upon medical retirement if they wish to convert their DOD sponsored disability to a VA sponsored disability. Veterans that previously chose to keep or maintain their militiary medical retirement benefits were denied specific claim to VA benefits. This dilutes the VA benefits and penalizes those that were forced to give up their military medical retirement benefits. I am not certain that this is a good thing for veterans in general since it grants additional classification status to a second and vastly more powerful Federal authority (the DOD). In doing so, it marginalizes the classification authority of the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am not convinced that the DOD serves the interests of veterans better than the Department of Veterans Affairs. More importantly the two agencies have different standards for classifying disability and those standards are driven by conflicting objectives. This harms veterans and further erodes the State's rights! This requires a NO vote.

The second correction is simply political correctness and a gender non-specificity correction. While socially appropriate, there have been no documented cases of application of service denial to a veteran on the basis of gender. Any such denial would not withstand judicial scrutiny and the challenger would risk discriminatory litigation.

But it gets worse... let's see how deep the rabbit hole goes...


The Analysis - Cascade of More and Less

A veteran having a disability rating of not less than 10 percent but less[nor more] than 30 percent may be granted an exemption from taxation for property valued at up to $5,000.

As we will see in the next change, this benefits those that are at 30 percent by lowering the standard by 1 percent.

A veteran having a disability rating of not less [more] than 30 percent but less [not more] than 50 percent may be granted an exemption from taxation for property valued at up to $7,500.

Veterans that are specifically at the 30 percent disability rating are moved up a catagory and gain an additional $2,500 valuation exemption.

A veteran having a disability rating of not less [more] than 50 percent but less[not more] than 70 percent may be granted an exemption from taxation for property valued at up to $10,000.

Veterans that are specifically at the 50 percent disability rating are moved up a catagory and gain an additional $2,500 valuation exemption.

A veteran who has a disability rating of [more than] 70 percent or more, or a veteran who has a disability rating of not less than 10 percent and has attained the age of 65, or a disabled veteran whose disability consists of the loss or loss of use of one or more limbs, total blindness in one or both eyes, or paraplegia, may be granted an exemption from taxation for property valued at up to $12,000.

Veterans that are specifically at the 70 percent disability rating are moved up a catagory and gain an additional $2,000 valuation exemption.

These changes combined make for potentially good campaign propoganda. A political spin-doctor will parlay this into many thousands of dollars in additional benefits to veterans. It sounds nice and makes for good sound bites... but the truth is shameful. Let's take a look at what the numbers really mean...


The exemptions are reductions in the valuations of a homestead. In other words, if a veteran owned a home valued at less than their rated exemption, they pay no taxes for that home. But, how many veterans own homes valued at less than $5,000 or even $12,000? Well, let's look at the tax rate... perhaps there is real value there...

In Houston, this is the tax rate for FY08 in range groups where the exemptions apply. Note: Houston has a higher tax rate than the majority of the state, so both the tax burden and the tax benefits for veterans are more substancial. In rural areas of Texas the rate and benefit may be as much as half or more--further diminishing the value to veterans.

Tax Authority   Valuation   Tax Rate   Cost
             
          10-29% Disability  
Harris County   5,000   0.40239000%   $20.12
Harris County Flood Control Dist   5,000   0.03241000%   $1.62
Port of Houston Authority   5,000   0.01302000%   $0.65
Harris County Hospital District   5,000   0.19216000%   $9.61
Harris County Dept. of Education   5,000   0.00629000%   $0.31
N Harris Montgomery Comm College   5,000   0.11670000%   $5.84
        FY08 Total   $38.15
             
For Veterans Specifically at 30%          
translates to a differential of: $19.07        
          30-49% Disability  
Harris County   7,500   0.40239000%   $30.18
Harris County Flood Control Dist   7,500   0.03241000%   $2.43
Port of Houston Authority   7,500   0.01302000%   $0.98
Harris County Hospital District   7,500   0.19216000%   $14.41
Harris County Dept. of Education   7,500   0.00629000%   $0.47
N Harris Montgomery Comm College   7,500   0.11670000%   $8.75
            $57.22
             
For Veterans Specifically at 50%          
translates to a differential of: $19.07        
          50-69% Disability  
Harris County   10,000   0.40239000%   $40.24
Harris County Flood Control Dist   10,000   0.03241000%   $3.24
Port of Houston Authority   10,000   0.01302000%   $1.30
Harris County Hospital District   10,000   0.19216000%   $19.22
Harris County Dept. of Education   10,000   0.00629000%   $0.63
N Harris Montgomery Comm College   10,000   0.11670000%   $11.67
            $76.30
             
For Veterans Specifically at 70%            
translates to a differential of: $15.26        
          70+% Disability  
Harris County   12,000   0.40239000%   $48.29
Harris County Flood Control Dist   12,000   0.03241000%   $3.89
Port of Houston Authority   12,000   0.01302000%   $1.56
Harris County Hospital District   12,000   0.19216000%   $23.06
Harris County Dept. of Education   12,000   0.00629000%   $0.75
N Harris Montgomery Comm College   12,000   0.11670000%   $14.00
            $91.56

The total tax offset for a most severely disabled veteran "who has a disability rating of 70 percent or more," or " a disabled veteran whose disability consists of the loss or loss of use of one or more limbs, total blindness in one or both eyes, or paraplegia" is less than $100 per year.

  • The value of a limb, blindness, or paraplegia is less than $100?
  • The differential benefit this change offers is less than $20 to a very select minority of veterans.
  • The value that the State of Texas places upon the heroic sacrifice in service our country is less than $100 of tax revenue offset.

Is this how much we value liberty and freedom?

Is this what it means when we say, "We support our troops?"

Vote No on Proposition 9.

...because it's an insult to iberty and the veterans that sacrificed to insure it.

Read 1155 times Last modified on Saturday, 07 April 2012 01:52
Rich Wermske

My pedigree and bona fides are published elsewhere. That said, I respect that a few may wish to learn more about the private person behind the writing.  While I accept I am exceptionally introverted (tending toward the misanthropic), I do enjoy socializing and sharing time with like-minded individuals. I have a zeal for integrity, ethics, and the economics of both interpersonal and organizational behavior.

The product of multi-generational paternal dysfunction, I practice healthy recovery (sobriety date December 11, 2001).  I am endogamous in my close personal relationships and belong to a variety of tribes that shape my worldview (in no particular order):

☯ I participate in and enjoy most geek culture. ☯ I am a practicing Buddhist and a legally ordained minister. I like to believe that people of other spiritual/faith systems find me approachable.  I am a member of the GLBTQA community -- I married my long-time partner in a ceremony officiated by Jeralita "Jeri" Costa of Joyful Joinings on November 18, 2013, certificated in King County, Seattle WA. We celebrate an anniversary date of February 2, 2002.  I am a service-connected, disabled, American veteran (USAF).  I am a University of Houston alumnus (BBA/MIS) and currently studying as a post baccalaureate for an additional degree in Philosophy and Law, Values, & Policy.  I am a retired Bishop in the Church of Commerce and Capitalism; the story arch of my prosecuting and proselytizing the technological proletariat is now behind me.  I am a native Houstonian (and obviously Texan).  At 50 years old, I am a "child of the sixties" and consider the 80's to be my formative years.

As I still struggle with humility, I strive to make willingness, honesty, and open mindedness cornerstones in all my affairs. Fourteen years of sobriety has taught me that none of "this" means a thing if I'm unwilling, dishonest, or close minded.  Therefore I work hard on the things I believe in --

  • I believe we can always achieve more if we collaborate and compromise.
  • I believe that liberal(ism) is a good word/concept and something to be proud to support.  The modern, systematic corruption of liberal ideas is a living human tragedy.
  • I believe in a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. The pragmatism of this site and my journey is rooted in both classical and social liberalism.
  • I believe in democratic elections and institutions including a media free of commercial and governmental bias.  Liberty and equality perish when a society becomes uneducated and/or ill-informed.
  • I believe in diversity of life and ideas.  Life and ideas can only flourish when the gene pool is vast and abundantly differentiated.
  • I believe in advancing balance in civil, social, and privacy rights such that all of humanity is continuously uplifted.
  • I believe in separation of church (spirituality) and state (governance) -- with neither in supremacy nor subjugation.
  • I believe in private (real or tangible) property explicitly excluding ideas, knowledge, and methods; such non-tangibles, by natural law, being free for all humanity and emancipated at conception.

While change and the uncertainty of the future may be uncomfortable, I do not fear the unknown; therefore:

    • I believe I must be willing to make difficult choices, that those choices may not be all that I desire, and that such may result in undesirable (or unintended) consequences;
    • I believe we must be willing to make mistakes or be wrong; and I am willing to change my mind if necessary.
I undertake to abide the five precepts of Buddhism; therefore:
  1. I believe it is wrong to kill or to knowingly allow others to kill.
  2. I believe it is wrong to steal or to knowingly allow others to steal.
  3. I believe in abstention from sexual misconduct.
  4. I believe it is wrong to lie or to knowingly allow others to lie.
  5. I believe in abstention from non-medicinal intoxicants as such clouds the mind.

Suicide, major depression, borderline personality, and alcoholism are feral monsters ever howling at my doorstep. However, despite my turbulent and tragic past, rare is the day where I have to rationalize, defend, or justify the actions of that person I see looking back at me in the mirror...

Website: www.wermske.com
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