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Wednesday, April 23, 1997

Tax plan would save millions for Bush partner

AUSTIN (AP) - A school tax overhaul pending in the House - and supported by Gov. George W. Bush - would save the governor's billionaire business partner at least $2.5 million in property taxes, the Houston Chronicle reported today.

The newspaper, in a copyright story, reported that Crescent Real Estate Equities, owned by Richard Rainwater, Bush's business partner and a top campaign contributor, also would be excluded from an expansion of the state business tax.

Crescent owns and manages more than 13 million square feet of commercial office space in Texas, according to the Chronicle. Through a blind trust, Bush owns 4,220 shares of stock in Crescent - worth $105,000 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange - according to a federal report.

For more than a year, Bush has pushed the idea of cutting local school property taxes. He has said the rising taxes are making it more difficult for Texans to buy and keep their own homes.

The governor earlier this year proposed a plan to create a new business tax, increase the sales tax and use more than $1 billion in additional state funds to pay for a roughly $3 billion annual cut to local school taxes.

A House committee last week approved its own plan expanding the current business tax, increasing some taxes and adding to the list of goods and services subject to the sales tax.

The bill is awaiting House action that was delayed until Wednesday.

Karen Hughes, a spokeswoman for the governor, said Bush has not discussed details of the tax plan with Rainwater, who gave $100,000 to Bush's 1994 election campaign.

"If you are asking whether the plan was constructed to benefit any of Governor Bush's business interests, the answer is not only no, but unequivocally no," she said. "We resent the question.

"This is a plan he developed at considerable political risk because it is good for the homeowners of Texas, and it will cost him personally additional taxes." Send a Letter to the Editor about This Story | Start or Join A Discussion about This Story
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