Is Tom Leppert a Fiscal Conservative?

Angela Hunt and I surprise each other sometimes by actually agreeing on an issue. Regardless of whether we agree or disagree, I respect her civility, her dedication to Dallas, and most of all, her diligence. As the vote on the city budget nears, she has been poring over the details. She helpfully prepared a slideshow on the budget here (just click on the image to move on to the next slide). If you want more detail, you can also click on her Excel spreadsheets. Her major question, as you will see, is whether it is prudent in this economic climate for the city to assume more debt. The mayor says we need to keep investing in Dallas. Hunt asks how we are going to pay for it.

I agree with the mayor. But I also agree with Hunt. And that means, paradoxically, that I disagree with both of them. To invest in Dallas we need to raise taxes to pay for it. Otherwise we will be running Dallas like a junior version of the Bush Administration. 

The rebuttal, of course, is that a recession is a stupid time to raise taxes.  Almost all economists would agree — for the national economy. But Dallas is only 3/10th of 1 percent of the national economy. Its effect on the economy is like a pebble thrown into Lake Texoma.  There is never a stupid time to be fiscally responsible.  Tom Leppert the businessman knew that; Tom Leppert the politician-with-stars-in-his-eyes seems to have forgotten it. If we want the debt, the city should raise property taxes to pay the interest and principal. Otherwise, the citizens are handing the potential Senate candidate a IDCIWBH* card.

*I Don’t Care, I Won’t Be Here

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