Braddock on Texas and the so-called ‘Granny Tax’
Quorum Report Editor Scott Braddock discusses the rootless “granny tax,” the kinda-sorta endorsement of state Rep. Sarah Davis by the Texas House GOP caucus, and he profiles the courage of Texas Legislature candidates who accept non-transparent contributions and don’t disclose it. Recorded 2/19/2018.
Transcript of ‘granny tax’ portion of interview:
Jay Leeson: Tell me what is … I’m hearing more and more about the granny tax. Tell us what that means, granny tax.
Scott Braddock: I can’t make it to all of … Let me do that one on the next trip. But the other thing I’m going to say about all the miles I’m putting on my truck is, is that in my passenger seat I have stack of mailers. I’ll send you all the pictures. The attack mail pieces from your favorite group and my favorite group, the pro-voucher group, Empower Texans. And a lot of the attacks that they are lobbying against Republican candidates are just silly, stupid, and you kind of roll your eyes and you move on. Right? A lot of it’s just noise. A lot of it’s ridiculous. But one of the things that I have seen get a lot of attention and start to get a lot of traction is this idea that Republicans, and we’re talking conservative law-makers, that conservatives like Four Price, Ken King, et cetera, that some of those folks voted to create a granny tax.
Scott Braddock: So I was trying to remember what was this all about. And it’s always some issue that may not really even be on your radar all that much, and then it comes up in a campaign and you go, “Oh yeah, I remember that.” Well, look, some people are angry about this. In fact, I have heard from some candidates and some block walkers for candidates who have had doors slammed in their faces over this. Elderly Texans who are saying, “You voted to create a granny tax, get out of here!” I mean, they’re angry, but even though the anger is real, the granny tax is not real. Let me tell people what this was about.
Jay Leeson: Yeah, tell us.
Scott Braddock: Yeah, so there was a bill that was proposed by J.D. Sheffield, who is a doctor from Gatesville, Texas. And Sheffield, also a Republican, what he wanted to do was create a fund that would be set up by … Basically, a lot of the nursing homes around the state, if they chose to participate, would be able to put money into a pool and then that would create a matching fund. So that about 850 million of our tax dollars from the federal government would come back down to Texas so that we could use it for high quality care for some of the most vulnerable Texans. We’re talking about people who have Alzheimer’s and other disease. So when they become senior citizens and they’re … A lot of these folks, I mean, you know, they’re suffering in these nursing homes. A lot of them, especially those who are the Medicaid patients, because they just don’t have anything else. At the end of the day, nobody wants to end up that way, but being able to provide some extra care for them would be a good thing.
Scott Braddock: And the bill that Sheffield had proposed did not create any sort of a new tax. It just said that those nursing homes would pool their money to create this mechanism to draw down what is almost $900 million for these folks to offer them a little bit more help. And the bill even went a little bit further, Jay. It said that there could not be a granny tax. The bill expressly prohibited setting up a fee by these nursing homes. It said that the nursing homes, if they set up a fee for people in the nursing homes, that they would be sanctioned for doing so. So it prohibited a granny tax. The truth is the exact opposite of what people are seeing on these Empower Texans mailers.
Scott Braddock: But if people have seen these mailers, they know what I’m talking about. One of them is a letter that says … And this was in Ken King’s district for example. They called it Ken King’s Most Despicable Vote. That he voted to permit nursing homes to assess a new fee for each bed in their facility so that the state could draw down federal funds, and in turn, give those funds back to the nursing home operators. Really, really twisting the facts. And as I said, you look at some of these things and you think just silly, nonsense. But this one has been gaining some traction, so it was time to set the record straight, in my opinion.