News that Gets My Goat..
Chronicle News Services report that Aetna has raised its earnings forecast for 2011 after first quarter net income rose 4% to $586 million. In related news, my Aetna HMO coverage for our family of four will cost my employer and me $24,000 this year. Apparently the Medical Loss Ratio provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have yet to come into effect, and Americas Health Insurance Plans have moved to maximize profits in the meantime. I’m waiting to see how Medicare clients react to Paul Ryan’s plan to throw them to these wolves.
The 82nd Texas Legislature, with Republican majorities in both the House and the Senate is struggling to pass a budget. The $27 billion revenue shortfall, along with their pledge to not raise taxes, has led to estimates of 100,000 schoolteachers, and as many state employees, losing their jobs.
I see that the Ways and Means Committee of the Texas House approved HB262, the bill to extend the $1,000,000 Business Franchise Tax exemption. The exemption is scheduled to expire this year making the tax apply to businesses with revenues of over $600,000. This is the tax that was supposed to make up revenue lost when the Lege cut property taxes in 2006. Instead, we’ve been operating with a ‘structural deficit’ that left state budget writers $27 billion in the red this session.
Even more ridiculous, if possible, is the bill by Representative John Davis to forego sales tax on the sale of yachts priced over $250,000. At the same time, the Lege is looking to make up revenue by discontinuing the annual sales tax holiday in the summer for purchases of school uniforms and supplies.
In other news, The Chronicle reports that a coalition of ministers, charities, advocacy groups and legislators are pushing for regulation of payday and auto title lenders, who have spent $3.8 million this session to forestall such measures. We’ll see if this effort brings a break with lawmaker’s usual practice of afflicting the afflicted and comforting the comfortable.