Most people complain that taxes are too high. I would agree. The reason that taxes are too high is because government attempts to do too many things, most are which are outside of its proper and legitimate sphere.
I also believe that taxes are too high because taxation is immoral--any level of taxation would be too high in my opinion. Taxation takes money from individuals and businesses without their consent. If a private citizen did this, he would be arrested for theft. The principle does not change merely because government is doing the taking—government takes from those who have earned and gives it to those who have not. This is not a proper function of government and it is immoral.
I would be naïve to suggest that we can end taxation in the near future. There is too much government to dismantle. But we can significantly reduce taxation in Houston. We can take steps to allow Houstonians to keep more of the money they earn.
Our plan for reducing taxes includes selling city assets, privatizing city services, eliminating code enforcement (because the codes will be repealed), and cutting spending in other areas. Each of these steps alone could result in significant tax reduction; together they will have a tremendous impact on your ability to retain the money you earn.
As a few examples of where savings can occur:
- More than $60 million can be cut from the city budget by eliminating building inspections and similar functions. Building codes, regulations controlling occupancy of residential and commercial buildings, and similar ordinances violate the rights of individuals to use their property as they choose. Such functions are not proper for government and they should be eliminated.
- Providing parks and other recreational facilities is not a proper function of government. Such assets should be sold to the private sector. Selling some of the city’s parks would allow us to reduce this expense. Our goal is to reduce the parks and recreation budget by at least 15% per year.
- Nearly $5 million can be cut from the city budget by eliminating sign administration. Ordinances regulating and controlling billboards and signs violate the rights of individuals to use their property as they choose. Such functions are not proper for government and they should be eliminated.
- Nearly $10 million can be cut from the city budget by eliminating the Mobility Response Team. Clearing roadways is not a proper function of government. This particular program takes money from some Houstonians to use for the benefit of other Houstonians. This program should be eliminated.
- Nearly $9 million can be cut from the city budget by eliminating the Planning and Development Department. Planning and development are not government functions and should be left to the discretion of private individuals.
- As we privatize solid waste collection the budget for that department will be reduced. Our goal is a reduction of 25% per year. The budget for FY2009 is $76.41 million. This will translate to a savings of more than $19 million in the first year.
The above measures will reduce the city budget by more than $104 million. The city's current budget is approximately $2 billion per year. Of this, less than half is for legitimate government functions--the police and courts. And both the police and the courts are over burdened with laws that are improper and immoral. The city's budget should be a fraction of what it is today.
We will reduce property taxes by 10% in the first month after taking office. This will save Houstonians $88 million per year. Our goal will be to reduce property taxes by at least 50% in 6 years. Eliminating permitting and licensing fees will translate to other savings not reflected in the city’s budget, that is, lower regulatory impact costs to businesses and consumers. Cutting taxes will allow Houstonians to keep more of the money they earn. Morally, this is only proper. Such measures will also spur investment into new businesses and expansion of existing businesses.
One of my opponents claims that her years of service on City Council and as Controller means that she can spend taxpayer money more wisely than any other candidate. This is a very presumptuous attitude, and I reject it. I do not purport to know how to spend your money more wisely than you, and I intend to take whatever steps necessary to allow you to keep an increasing amount of your money. It’s your money. I don’t intend to try to find ways to spend it more wisely. I intend to find ways to let you keep more of it so you spend it as you choose. I won't make empty promises about not raising taxes, because I will cut taxes significantly.
Thursday: The Economy