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Prop 1 “healthcare” 63% Tax Rate Increase is Unnecessary, Too Costly

http://www.statesman.com/opinion/zimmerman-falk-say-no-to-a-medical-school-2465807.html

[The following article was submitted to the Statesman, which made several omissions from the original]

UNNECESSARY AND TOO COSTLY

Most Austinites agree that a modern city like ours should facilitate a healthcare safety net for indigent citizens. A century ago, such services were provided by private charitable groups, who opened the Seton Infirmary in 1902. Since then, an expanding tax and spend bureaucracy has taken control. “Government welfare has destroyed the charitable system which was far more effective, compassionate and more person to person in helping people”, according to Nobel Prize economist Dr. Milton Friedman. Texans have demonstrated true charity for generations, but constant expansion of taxation under the false flag of charity has now undermined charitable efforts.

NEED

Central Texans should be proud of their quality healthcare facilities and dedicated professionals. We’re served by over 30 hospitals, a network of clinics, and hundreds of private practitioners. Austin’s Brakenridge Hospital is state of the art and rated by OSHA as the safest top level trauma center in America. Visit the hospital and you will see – it’s not “crumbling”.

Texas has eight LCME accredited medical schools (the same as California); four controlled by the U.T. System. Moreover, a new (2009) medical school in Round Rock, formed without the precondition of increased property taxes, is already operating and expanding Central Texas healthcare.

Currently, A&M Health Sciences Center operates 12 central Texas teaching hospitals / clinical affiliates. The U.T. Southwestern Medical school teaching hospital branch at Brakenridge advertises numerous residency programs and currently has over a hundred medical students, and names a “Regional Dean”.

We also have the Austin Clinical Education Center (CEC), “a powerhouse academic collaboration creating an innovative approach to address education, training, and the current growing shortage of nursing, physicians and other skilled clinical personnel in Central Texas”. The CEC hosts over 200,000 function attendees a year. Austin Community College’s property tax increase funded their Health Sciences Division “number 1 trainer and retrainer for healthcare professionals”. Additionally, Austin’s U.T. School of Nursing – “one of the nations leading nursing schools”, operates two community based wellness centers.

Finally, Austin property owners already fund excellent indigent healthcare through Central Health, which receives over $100 million annually. It operates 21 Travis County healthcare centers; the gigantic new North Central Community Center recently opened, and another 70,000 square feet clinic opens in 2013.

EXISTING TAXES / INCREASES

Prop 1’s outrageous 63% Central Health tax increase cannot be justified. Travis county taxpayers, already carrying the highest per-capita burden of any metropolitan county in Texas, are suffering “death by a thousand cuts”, with our poor and elderly hardest hit. Many on fixed incomes sacrifice to fund ever increasing tax bills on their homes. East Austin ‘gentrification’ is literally taxing some residents out of their homes. This year alone, City and County property taxes are again rising substantially along with water and electricity rates. The Statesman recently reported that property tax bills increased 38% (adjusted for inflation) from 2000 – 2010.

FALSE PROMISE OF IMPROVED HEALTHCARE

Proponents promise “improved healthcare” and how “cancer patients won’t have to travel for treatment”; promises that ignore reality. Austin has six dedicated cancer centers that proclaim “advanced technologies offered by nobody else”, “the most advanced, patient-friendly cancer treatment available” and “the latest state-of-the art imaging and diagnostic technologies”. Still, some travel to world-renowned M.D. Anderson – as princes and billionaires the world over also do. To claim such travel will become unnecessary is laughable. To imply our local practitioners and facilities are sub-standard insults the dedicated professionals providing Austin’s outstanding health care.

DUBIOUS CLAIMS OF ECONOMIC ACTIVITY

Politicians claim this will ‘create jobs’ and economic activity. In reality, these promises are unsupported by demonstrated facts. With consistent growth and a 5-6% unemployment rate, Austin doesn’t have an employment problem which more taxes can solve. Claims of “billions in activity” omit much of that would be spent anyway, and most comes from within our community. Central Health’s promises of increased federal spending are also irresponsible, considering the credit downgrade of the federal government and over $16 trillion of debt.

PROFESSIONAL LOBBY

What started as voluntary charity healthcare has transformed into a corporate political machine, which exploits highly charged emotions of indigent healthcare. Voters are being persuaded by a corporately funded professional campaign; a similar campaign spent over $180,000 of corporate money in 2004 passing the original healthcare property tax. When you see their slick ads, remember this isn’t the charitable Seton Infirmary of 1902 — its 21st century empire building on the backs of homeowners.

Roger Falk
Don Zimmerman
www.TCTunion.com

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TCTU Launches STOP THE BLEEDING campaign against 63% tax rate increase

On September 21st (2012), several advisors and affiliates of TCTU gave statements answered questions from the media on why the 63% tax rate increase for an unnecessary new medical school complex and other expansions of government controlled healthcare should be voted down.

http://www.weareaustin.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_4328.shtml

Roger Falk led our talking points, which will be underscored in an important OpEd against Prop 1 expected to be printed soon by the Austin Statesman.

The TCTU SPAC is accepting contributions for more signs and campaign materials — please send contributions to:

Travis County Taxpayers Union SPAC 

13492 Research Blvd #120-141, Austin, TX  78750

TEC rules instruct us to ask you for employer/occupation information.

Individual, business, and corporate checks are acceptable (in 2004, proponents of the tax spent over $180,000 of corporate PAC dollars passing the tax).

For any questions or comments, contact Don Zimmerman, TCTU SPAC Treasurer, 512-577-8842,  don@TCTunion.com

 

 

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Travis County Taxpayers Union launches “STOP THE BLEEDING” campaign against 63% property tax rate increase demanded by “Central Health” (Prop 1 on November 6th ballot).

21-September-2012

Travis County Taxpayers Union launches “STOP THE BLEEDING” campaign against 63% property tax rate increase demanded by “Central Health”
(Prop 1 on November 6th ballot).

Austin, TX — Several members of the Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) and affiliated individuals will be available to the media to answer questions about the huge property tax rate increase in Prop 1 and rationale for opposing it. TCTU will unveil the large red STOP THE BLEEDING signs which begin distribution this weekend.

The TCTU says the taxpayers are experiencing “death by a thousand small cuts”, and it’s time to “stop the bleeding”.

“Proposition 1 is unnecessary and too costly”, says Roger Falk, an advisor and analyst for TCTU; “To imply our local practitioners and facilities are sub-standard insults the dedicated professionals providing Austin’s outstanding health care.”

Dr. Laura Pressley, former Austin City Council candidate, says “Austinites cannot afford this enormous tax increase. Let donors and the private sector build a new medical school and teaching hospital. Keep the taxpayer out of the equation”.

Don Zimmerman adds, “Voters should expect slick ads from a corporately funded professional campaign that will conceal the astronomical taxpayer bill for their ambitions; a political machine spent over $180,000 of corporate dollars in 2004 to create this property tax”.

TCTU is also announcing their participation in the upcoming RFC-TC Prop 1 forum (October 10th luncheon at Steiner Ranch Steakhouse in western Travis County), with Dr. David Berry speaking in opposition).

WHAT: “Stop the Bleeding” campaign launch against Prop 1, a 63% property tax increase
WHEN: Friday, Sep. 21 (2012), 11:30 AM
WHERE: 2323 South Lamar at Bluebonnet
WHY: Members of Travis County Taxpayers Union (TCTU) will answer questions from media regarding opposition to huge tax increase on the Nov 6th ballot.

For more information, contact
ROGER FALK, 512-258-5953, roger.falk@yahoo.com, TCTU Advisor and Analyst
Don Zimmerman, 512-577-8842, don@TCTunion.com, TCTU SPAC Treasurer


The Travis County Taxpayers Union, www.TCTunion.com, was created in 2012 to represent the political interest of Travis County taxpayers.

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Travis County Taxpayers Union files TEC Complaint against Senator Kirk Watson’s “Keep Austin Healthy PAC” for failure to file Campaign Treasurer Appointment

Press Advisory:  Travis County Taxpayers Union files TEC Complaint against Senator Kirk Watson’s “Keep Austin Healthy PAC” for failure to file campaign treasurer appointment, and improperly using UT resources to advocate passage of Central Health’s Prop 1 tax increase.

September 10th, 2012,  10:00 AM

Austin, TX —  A Texas Ethics Commission complaint is being filed alleging violation of Texas Election Code Title 15, Sec 253.031, which prohibits raising or spending more than $500 without a campaign treasurer appointment (CTA) on file with the appropriate filing authority.  Another alleged violation involves Sec. 255.003, “Unlawful Use of Public Funds for Political Advertising”, because “Keep Austin Healthy” advertised for paid campaign staffers, on a University of Texas URL (weblink), for the purpose of passing a ballot measure to increase property taxes.

“There is evidence that ‘Keep Austin Healthy PAC’ has been raising funds far in excess of $500, for around three weeks without the any appointment of a campaign treasurer, which is required by law”, said Don Zimmerman, treasurer of the Travis County Taxpayers Union SPAC, which opposes the tax increase.  “Many grassroots campaigners are intimidated into inactivity by lengthy, obtuse campaign finance laws.  But a highly experienced lawyer and powerful incumbent politician, Sen. Watson, who should know the law well, has no urgency to comply”, continued Zimmerman.

Jerri Lynn Ward, an advisor for Travis County Taxpayers Union, said, “One reason for laws like this is for transparency in fundraising.  Taxpayers need to know what special interests are behind such a massive increase, should this measure prevail”.

“Travis County Central Health states, ‘Our negotiating position does not need to be revealed to voters, and the executive sessions will continue.’”, Jeffry Lane, Communications Director for Travis County Taxpayers Union, commented.  “The voters and property owners of Travis County should be outraged that Sen. Kirk Watson and Central Health believe they can increase a tax rate by 63% while violating the Texas Elections Code and assuming they know best for the Travis County voters and property owners.”

For more information, contact:

Jeffry Lane, Communications Director,  jeffry@tctunion.com, 512.981.7519

Don Zimmerman, SPAC Treasurer, don@tctunion.com, 512.577.8842

Jerri Lynn Ward, Advisor, jerrilynnward@gmail.com, 512.585.0491

The Travis County Taxpayers Union SPAC, formed in 2012, advocates for fiscal responsibility in political policy, advocates for property owners who believe government taxes are too high, and commits to oppose tax increases, and support tax reductions and reforms, in Travis County.

www.TCTunion.com

 

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Vote AGAINST “healthcare” 63% Property Tax Increase Nov 6th!

TC Taxpayers Union urges a vote AGAINST the Travis County Prop 1 ad-valorem 63% tax increase on the November 6th ballot.

Why vote AGAINST?

1. The Travis County per-capita tax levy (out of pocket taxes per person) is already 250% higher than Bexar County (the next largest county) and 870% higher than El Paso County (the next smaller county).  Many county residents have already been forced to move or sell homes because of outrageous tax increases and diminished job prospects, even before the economy worsened.  WE NEED PROPERTY TAX RELIEF, NOT even higher unsustainable taxes.

2. According to the LCME (lcme.org, the North American authority for medical school accreditation for US and Canada), Texas already has eight (8) accredited medical schools – the same as California.  The University of Texas has 4 of those, in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Galveston.   Moreover, the Texas A&M College of Medicine already has a new (2009) “community based”  medical school in Round Rock, already doing much of what Travis Central Health is proposing in a “new medical school”, and the Round Rock medical school was and is not subsidized by property taxes.   WE NEED ECONOMIC FREEDOM AND DIVERSIFICATION, NOT yet another medical school.

3. As reported by the Austin Statesman, Central Health Board members have been meeting secretly (“behind closed doors”) for months on how to spend and leverage higher tax revenue; taxpayers cannot know for certain what secret deals have been cut or what private corporate profits may result from $10s of millions in extra taxes.  Central Health defiantly says (quoting), “Our negotiating position does not need to be revealed to voters, and the executive [secret] meetings will continue.”  While small businesses and homeowners publicly struggle to stay afloat, politicians and bureaucrats privately plot to leverage higher, unsustainable local and federal taxes.  WE NEED PUBLIC DISCLOSURE AND PLANS TO REDUCE TAXES, not secret meetings on how to spend more taxpayer money!

4. While the federal government already faces a $16 trillion (and rapidly growing) debt, a downgrade in its credit rating, and alarming signs of a fiscal crisis from unfunded entitlements, “Central Health” boasts that a “Program 115 Waiver” increases federal spending.  Quoting Central Health, “Every new local dollar will be matched with $1.46 in federal funds…” – funds the federal government does not have and must borrow from China or others!  To claim an advantage in raising local taxes so we can further raise the national debt underscores the arrogance and irresponsibility of an out of control government.  WE NEED FISCAL SANITY, not increased local taxes which further increase the national debt!

5. The high cost of government in Travis County financially injures small business employers and property owners, causing economic hardship and loss of benefits like medical insurance.  The Central Health solution is to raise the cost of government even more with higher taxes for healthcare controlled by government bureaucrats and politicians. Central Health truly is “transforming” health care from a market system regular people can choose, to a single, coerced government system politicians and bureaucrats choose.  Central Health claims that “local healthcare expansions and upgrades are needed”; this is exactly the same claim they made in 2004 when the new tax was imposed, and exactly the same claim they will make in 5 or 10 years when they demand another 10%, 50% or 100% tax increase.  We must vote NOW to halt the insatiable demand of bureaucrats and politicians for more money and power over our healthcare.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH – STOP THE BLEEDING!

VOTE AGAINST “Central Health” 63% Property Tax on Nov 6th!!

 

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Travis County Taxpayers Union SPAC filed with Travis County Elections Office

It’s official – the Travis County Taxpayers Union SPAC is filed with the Travis County Elections office and campaign contributions to oppose the Proposition 1 ad-valorem property tax increase may be sent to:

Travis County Taxpayers Union SPAC, 13492 Research Blvd #120-141, Austin, TX 78750

Remember, just as St. Davids and Seton CORPORATE hospitals contributed over $100,000 (and DELL corp contributed $25,000) to PACs to originally pass the hospital district tax in 2004, CORPORATE contributions in opposition to the tax are also ethical and essential to beating back the latest increase — a 63% increase from last year.

Please join our e-mail list for upcoming news/press releases regarding the campaigns opposing the tax increase.  We expect a number of grassroots groups (volunteers, not professionally paid as the corporations seeking your tax money can afford) to announce their objections to the proposed property tax increase.

Don Zimmerman

Treasurer, TCTunion SPAC,  512-577-8842  don@TCTunion.com