While the state Senate appears to be moving closer to a compromise that will allow it to pass a proposed $504 million income and property tax cut, Republican leaders in the state Assembly are expressing some reservations about the plan.
The Assembly has already signed off on the proposal, but Republican state Senators have been wrangling for weeks over the plan. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said from the outset he would have difficulty getting the votes to approve it because moderate GOP Senators are concerned that the tax cuts could add to the state’s structural deficit in the next biennium.
The full details of a compromise have not been released, but Fitzgerald says it would retain the income and property tax cuts asked for by Walker. Instead of putting more than $100 million in the state’s rainy day fund, that money would be kept in the general fund and be used to reduce a projected structural deficit. The deal would also lapse about $38 million in state agency funding through 2016, meaning those agencies would have to return those dollars to the state at the end of the fiscal year.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) maintained Tuesday that he’s open to “tweaks” in the governor’s plan, but cautioned that he does not want to get “cute” with accounting gimmicks. Vos says “it just is a little weird saying that we have a surplus, but we’re going to ask the agencies to lapse back money so we can let it sit in the general fund.”
The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee will hold a hearing on the Senate’s proposed changes later today at the Capitol, with a vote also scheduled. If it clears the committee, the Senate could vote on it early next month.