Local Taxes Dominate Texas-36 Congressional Race
While campaigning for office as an opponent of tax increases, congressional candidate Brian Babin’s record in local office have led some to charge him with hypocrisy. Babin says that while local elected officials have to “bite the bullet” and increase taxes when providing the most of basic services, there is no comparison to what’s going on in Congress.
Babin, a dentist, received 33 percent of the vote in the March Republican Primary for Texas’ 36th Congressional District. He faces businessman and radio show host Ben Streusand in the May 27 run-off. Streusand garnered 23 percent of the vote.
Prominently displayed on Babin’s campaign website is his opposition to tax increases, specifically stating “I oppose ANY [sic] tax increase and will work toward a simplified tax code.”
Both Babin and Streusand have signed the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge” sponsored by Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. The pledge states that candidates will “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses.”
On at least a half-dozen occasions, Babin voted to increase taxes while serving on the Woodville city council and later on the local school board.
For example, in 1988 city records show it was then-city alderman Babin who made the motion to increase city taxes 38% percent.
“We had 100 percent sewage capacity,” Babin told Breitbart Texas on Friday. “We couldn’t even maintain the city, much less grow.” The tax increase was necessary to fund the needed infrastructure to serve the city’s population.
Babin said critics “cannot even remotely connect that with what I’d do as a U.S. congressman.” He said that there is a fundamental difference “between running a 2,600-person town or a small school district… and what’s going on at the state and federal level.”
“Sewage is a basic need, two years of unemployment payments is way beyond basic needs,” he added. “You can’t even compare that. We’re trying to make ends meet.”
Five years later, in 1993, Babin was serving on the Woodville ISD School Board. According to official transcripts, he voted to hike property taxes 187% in a single year.
“That was at my very first meeting,” explained Babin. “That was called equalization; everyone else called it the Robin Hood plan. We were kind of a medium district and we wound up losing a lot of money.”
In 1993, the then-Democratic-controlled Texas Legislature enacted the funding plan known as “Robin Hood” required under court-mandate. The plan redistributes funds generated for public education between property “wealthy” and “poor” districts.
“When you’re a small town, or a 2A school… you’ve got to bite the bullet,” he said.
A spokesman for the Streusand campaign, however, said the record shows Babin will vote for taxes if he can justify them in his own mind as being necessary.
"It's impossible for anyone to trust Dr. Babin concerning taxes because he voted for or championed [tax] increases six times,” said Anthony Holm. “Babin seems to have found fiscal conservatism on the campaign trail because his record is clearly a record tax increases and establishment politics.”
Holm said that since this is Babin’s “seventh attempt for public office as a candidate it seems he's forgotten what he's said and done before.”
“Ben Streusand has a record of organizing Texans to oppose tax increases and government over reach like Obamacare,” said Holm. “Ben Streusand was a Tea Party leader before there was a Tea Party.”
Babin, an early supporter of Ronald Reagan in the Lone Star State in the 1970s, says he is proud of his record.
“My opponent has never held any kind of office where he had to balance a budget and make sure you have water and sewage for your citizens,” said Babin.
In addition to his business interests and radio show, Streusand has served as the chairman of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity.
The run-off election is Tuesday, May 27.
Michael Quinn Sullivan is the President for Empower Texans. Follow him on Twitter @MQSullivan