Cornyn urges Dems to approve tax bill

Marilyn Tennissen Nov. 1, 2007, 1:32pm

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn urged Senate Democrats to drop their objection of legislation that would help working families in Texas.

The Republican senator from Texas spoke on the Senate floor Nov. 1 in response to a block by the Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee to bills that would make state and local sales tax deductions permanent. The bill was co-sponsored by Cornyn.

The majority is also holding up Cornyn's bill to extend deductions for taxpayers who pay college tuition.

Cornyn said the two taxpayer-friendly provisions in the IRS Code will "disappear within the next 60 days unless we do something about them."

"My state of Texas, like a handful of other states, doesn't believe that we need a state income tax," Cornyn said on the Senate floor. "We don't have one. We're not going to get one. But what we do want is a level playing field when it comes to the federal income tax code allowing the deduction of the state sales tax just like it allows currently a deduction of the state income tax from one's federal tax return."

The senator said it is a "matter of gross discrimination" against states that do not have state income tax.

"I think it's just simply unfair and it needs to end on a permanent basis. … We are a low-tax, pro-growth state and that's why we've seen three million people move to the state of Texas since 2000, because it provides incentives for job creation by small and big businesses alike," he said. "So we're not asking for the federal government to somehow bless Texas adopting a state income tax. We don't want it. But what we do want is fundamental fairness."

Cornyn said extending the sales tax deduction gives Texans $1 billion in tax relief each year, and helps middle-class families save money. That money, he said, could be used to invest in a small business or pay for college tuition and spur economic growth.

Cornyn also said the Democrats should end their hold on his tax relief legislation to make college more affordable. This college tuition deduction credit bill extends for two years a provision allowing taxpayers to deduct up to $4,000 from their federal income tax return regardless of whether or not they itemize deductions.

"Both of these deductions keep money in the pockets of taxpayers … rather than writing a bigger check to Uncle Sam," Cornyn said. "It is appropriate to use the IRS Code not only to provide for fundamental fairness when it comes to allowing the deduction of state sales tax, it's also appropriate to use the IRS Code to provide for further educational opportunity. … The last thing we should do is force taxpayers to work more hours, longer days for Uncle Sam and not for their family. Rather than waiting for some future bill to hopefully address this need, the Senate should extend these taxpayer-friendly provisions today."

Cornyn serves on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Budget Committees. In addition, he is vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee's Immigration, Border Security and Refugees subcommittee and the Armed Services Committee's Airland subcommittee.

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