The rhetoric is heating up in the fight over Proposition 1, a health care tax hike which is linked to a new medical school. Thursday several out-spoken tax critics joined the opposition group while supporters have launched a new ad campaign.
With early voting set to start on Monday, the members of this anti-tax coalition gathered Thursday to speak out against Prop-1.
"This is based on false promises," said
Several of those at the morning news conference have waged past political campaigns. Former Austin council candidates Laura Pressley and Shaun Ireland as well as Clay Defoe who ran for mayor spoke against the ballot proposition.
"It's a raw deal folks," said Defoe.
"We cannot tolerate any more increases in our tax rate," said Pressley.
"How much more are they going to squeeze the stone to get blood out of it?" asked Ireland.
The effectiveness of this coalition was dismissed by Mark Nathan, an advocate for the Prop 1 support group, healthy ATX.
"These folks are not just against the medical school, they're against everything," said Nathan.
Don Zimmerman, who organized the coalition and is the treasurer for the Travis County taxpayer union was also hit with an ethics complaint.
Political firebrand Glen Maxey, who is a Prop1 supporter has accused Zimmerman of failing to file proper paperwork for his PAC.
In a written statement Maxey also described Zimmerman's coalition as "a group of failed political candidates trying to keep their own names in the spotlight."
The increased rhetoric from both sides in the political debate is an indication of the pressure that continues to build and a new ad campaign for Prop1 is about to be dialed in. The first spot spotlights a family that had to travel out of town for cancer treatment. Opposition TV ads are also in the works.
Prop 1 would increase the tax collected for the central health district by 5-cents. At the current rate, the annual tax on average property value in Travis County is about $150. If approved, the owner of that same property would see the annual tax bill grow to just over $270 or about $24 a month.
"We have the lowest health care district tax rate than any of the large metropolitan counties in this state, we have the lowest rate now and we'll have the lowest rate after this tax increase passes," said Nathan.
The shock value of a 63 percent tax hike is a big part the opposition campaign. The fear of what that could mean for low and fixed income families has the local League of United Latin American Citizens coming out against Prop 1.
"So we cannot support something that will further drive us out of our neighborhood," said Gavino Fernandez, Jr, LULAC Dist. XII Director.
As the debate continues for those at the ballot box the issue may eventually come down to a decision between personal and financial health.