`INDIVIDUALS PAY HALF THE TAXES’ AUSTIN Governor Price Daniel, dressed in a black suit and a black tie with a white star in the middle and a gold clasp bearing the Seal of the State, made a lot of things clear at his press conference Saturday. He laid his glasses backwards on the table, rested his cigar over the bridge, and told the assembled reporters that : Not only will he not retreat on his three percent natural gas tax, if there’s too much delay he’ll recommend a larger increase. He will fight for all of his original revenue program: the bank bill, the bookkeeping bill, the franchise tax, especially including the allocation change which will be paid by large interstate ‘companies; the selective sales taxes he has recommended on cigarettes, liquor, and cars. He may try to tax cigarettes bound for military bases in Texas before they reach the protective federal sovereignty. He may open up the special session to other issues preserving the public beaches for public use, stiffer highway safety laws, and crime prevention laws, especiallybut he may not talk about anything in his opening message but spending and taxes. He may propose some other tax ideas, but he would not be drawn into what they might be. He is willing to accept alternatives to some parts of his program, but not to other parts. He is irked with the Senate for its failure to pass out even his bookkeeping bill to reduce the deficit, although it had a month to consider it. He believes that the sales taxers’ play is to run the bill up as high as possible to increase the opposition to any solution short of a general sales tax. He will fight for “a tax that is justly due us on natural gas and interstate corporations.” It was interesting that eight house membersReps. Hinson, Cotten, Kilgarlin, Jamison, Buchanan, Huebner, a n d Dewey dropped into the Governor’s reception room to listen to the conference, but not a single senator was present. Daniel had held only two other press conferences all session, and he began by saying he would meet with the press any time if they would just tell him they wanted him to. A local paper had criticized him for meeting with the press so infrequently, he remarked “Was that the Observer or the Austin paper?” a wag asked; Dan*1 smiled and said it was the daily. Then he launched into his formal announcement of the special session. “In view of the fact the legislature will not and cannot take care of the deficit before the next biennium, I will call a special session Monday, 11 a.m., the 18th of May, and in the meantime I’ll be here continuously until that time to work with members of the legislature so that they’ll be ready to introduce bills at 11 o’clock so that there will not be any delay.” He had talked to Speaker Waggoner Carr and would talk to Lt. Gov. Ben Ramsey about the problems of the session, he said. “We’re now getting close to September, when we will have to have appropriations to continue o u r public services, hospitals, public schools, highway program, and every function of government … I know they can do it in 30 days if there is a right amount of work and cooperation.” Some members do not realize that “this late it is getting to be a serious situation.” Would he compromise on his plan to raise the natural gas tax three percent? “No sir, I shall recommend at least three percent, and if there’s any delay in it there may be an increase in my recommendation.” Natural Gas Taxes He continued on this triggering question: “Since the Hinson tax was declared unconstitutional the gas companies have been paying on the same tax in Louisiana millions of dollars. I think we ought to collect at least half as much on natural gas as Louisiana and at least one-ninth as much as New York. And we ought to collect enough to make up for this loss all these years Louisiana has been getting the tax and we have not.” Would he re-recommend basically the same program he asked for at the beginning of the year? “There may be some additions ‘or changes.” Reverting to the natural gas tax, he said, “It’s not a new proposition. Former Governor Shivers asked for such an increase. It’s something that conservatives as well as moderates and liberals have thought we should come forward with in the state. “Individuals are carrying at least half the taxes,” Daniel said. “I think they are carrying at least AUSTIN The end of the session brought a quiet death to the “atheist bill” requiring professors to sign a statement of belief in the “existence of a Supreme Being” as a prerequisite to teaching in public schools and colleges. The measure, sponsored by Reps. Ben Lewis of Dallas, Joe Chapman of Sulphur Springs, Bill Hollowell of Grand Saline and Bill Dungan of McKinney, was reported out of committee after a favorable constitutional ruling was obtained from the attorney general, but it was never brought to a test on the House floor. Atty. Gen. Will Wilson’s opinion upholding the bill in all respects has caused much discussion in Austin. The opinion was written by J. Arthur Sandlin, an assistant, and signed by Wilson and Sandlin. Section 4 of Article One of the Constitution provides: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.” The Wilson-Sandlin opinion argued that the semi-colon has the meaning of a comma and the phrase “holding office” a 1 s o means holding a “public trust” even though it does not say this. “It has been suggested that the effect of this … was to make it possible to exclude atheists from public ‘office,’ but not from a public trust’,” said the opinion. “We have reached the conclusion that the words ‘provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being’ modify Section 4 of Article I in its entirety, and not just the last clause thereof.” The opinion had to deal with the fact that the two independent clauses in the provision are separated by a semi-colon, appearing to reinforce their grammatical independence. half the load. I think there is no objection to individuals paying half the taxes on the basis of ability to pay if we continue to levy the other half on natural resources, corporations, and other businesses.” \(The Observer first concluded, in a tax series, that individuals pay about half the state’s taxes . in the first instance. The Texas Research League, basing its figures on a concept of state-local taxes paid rather than state taxes, Why had the Bob Hughes,Charles Hughes,-George Hinson,Jim Bates substitute to H. B. ‘727, the tax bill, not been pushed to a vote on the floor? Daniel was asked. \(It was his substitute “It became quite evident, according to the members and the press, that there seemed to be pretty much a personality conflict. Some people were dead set on beating H. B. 727 and some people were dead set on beating the other. It did not seem there would be a good possibility to get a majority, and it seemed wise not to offer it.” What else might he ask the session to do? \(In a special session the Governor’s message restricts the subjects on which leg”There won’t be much else ex After concluding that the “provided” dependent clause modifies both the independent clauses preceding it, instead of the one to which it is adjacent, the opinion relied for agreement on the fact that the House committee also “reached the same conclusion,” arguing: “A semi-colon separates the two clauses in the constitutional provision, but the committee amendment, which follows the constitutional language very closely, omits the semi-colon and uses only commas.” Just how this affects the fact that .a semi-colon is used in the Constitution was not made explicit. The use of the word “nor” in the Constitution, argued the opinion, means the words which will follow it “will be in general agreement with what has gone before.” “If a repugnant provision such as an exception is to follow, it is our opinion that the only logical word to use would be ‘but,’ or ‘however,’ or ‘provided,’ or some other word of similar import.” “It is true that the provision in question is not couched in the clearest language,” Wilson and Sandlin state, “and the punctua Houston school board mem ber Mrs. Charles White, first Negro public official in the city since reconstruction, withdrew her support of bond and tax-raising proposals because, she said, the board is not responding to a federal court integration order. In explaining to the board the opposition of the Harris County Council of Organization, a group of 52 Negro organizations, Mrs. White said, “They feel quite strongly that the building program is just a way of circumventing integra cept real emergencies. I’m disturbed by the fact none of the highway safety bills and very few of the law enforcement bills got through …. If any of those really involve human life and are emergencies … especially may I submit some of the highway safety measures.” He also said he might introduce legislation to pr es e r v e beaches for the public \(related Bank Bill Changes He would fight again for his bank billbut “We may try to rewrite it for the propositions for those who would vote for it if it was changed.” If it does not pass, he said, since the Comptroller has certified it is worth $25 million to the state the next two years, “Somebody’s gotta be taxed $25 million if we don’t get the money the state already owns.” Would he open up the session to the Hale-Aikin reforms? he was asked. In effect he replied no. “I imagine that I would want to see us get the deficit cared for first and the current spending, which includes the $400 given the teachers last year, before we go into any new program of a sizeable nature. These matters of debt and present obligations should be cared for first.” Had Carr said they might work tion may leave something to be desired, but the intent and purpose of the framers of our Constitution is clear. The second clause before the proviso adds. nothing new, since ‘religious sentiments’ is certainly included within the term ‘religious test.’ We therefore think that the first part of the second clause was added merely for emphasis, and the net effect of the constitutional provision is that no person may be disqualified for public office or public trust as long as he acknowledges the existence of a Supreme Being.” The argument continues explicitly: “The first clause of the constitutional provision refers to ‘any office, or public trust.’ The second clause refers to ‘holding office.’ … we are of the opinion that the words ‘holding office’ are used in the sense that they mean the holding of a position of public trust as well as the holding of that which is technically denominated an ‘office.’ ” Wilson and Sandlin then quote from previous decisions from the Attorney General’s office i n which public office and a public trust have been equated. tion and don’t want to appropriate any funds for that purpose.” She said she was still “sympathetic” to school improvements she previously endorsed b u t added that recent board actions The Week in Texas had “shaken my confidence on whether the money will be spent most advantageously for all the children in the district. School board member Mrs. Frank Dyer reacted bitterly. “The Negroes out a joint program? “I wouldn’t say a joint program. There is a disposition to cooperate in every way possible.” Had he been approached to substitute the Eckhardt gas dedicated reserves tax for his severance beneficiary tax? “No, not in a long time,” he said. How about the Eckhardt graduated oil tax on the majors? “I have not considered the Eckhardt oil tax and have not been asked to for the special session,” he replied. How would his program differ from his January message? “If they have something else to offer that does not involve a general sales tax or a state income tax, I’ll certainly welcome their ‘suggestions,” he said. Some parts of his program he would. “fight for very strongly” but others are “in the category that there might be substitutes to them.” Was H.B. 727 a general sales tax? “727 didn’t amount to much of anything,” he said, laughing with the reporters at this. “Well, it was about 95 percent sales-tax items. It was not a general sales tax. It was so broad that it could be considered of that nature, but it was not a general sales tax,” he said. Would he tie his tax program to teachers’ pay? “I am trying to weigh that right now as to whether it’s helpful or harmful,” he replied, laughing a little. With that the reporters rose, ending the morning’s size-up of the unpredictable monthor monthsahead. R. D. On the issue of federal constitutionality, the opinion also upholds the bill, explaining: “The Bill of Rights embodied in both our State and Federal Constitutions guarantees to the individual certain inalienable rights which both the courts and the legislative bodies of the nation have traditionally guarded. Included is the right of the individual to think and ‘believe on matters both temporal and spiritual in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience. Implicit in the right to believe is also the right to disbelieve. It does not necessarily follow, however, that a man may think, believe, or act as he may choose without affecting right to public privileges to which he might otherwise be entitled. This limiting factor was illustrated by Justice Holmes in an early case when he declared that the appellant, a policeman, had a constitutional right to believe as he may wish, but he had no constitutional right to be a policeman … The bill does not . . contravene the general guarantees of personal religious freedom” in either the U. S. or Texas constitutions, the decision held. again. And they’re the ones who are always wanting things in the schools.” She charged Mrs. White made her statements as “a prepared political address.” Aldine high school students have opened a drive to sell $85,000 in time warrants to raise funds needed to open the district’s classrooms as teachers reaffirmed their intentions of staying away until enough money is on hand to carry their salaries through the remainder of the school year. Page 2 May 16, 1959 DANIEL EXPLAINS HIS TAX PROGRAM God, Freedom, and a Meaningful Semi-Colon `THE NEGROES AGAIN’ I
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