Tensions between Republicans in the state Senate and Assembly are flaring a bit this week, as lawmakers continue work on a deal on the governor’s proposed $504 million income and property tax cuts.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) was critical of Assembly Republicans for holding hearings on parts of the package this week, despite the fact that his chamber has yet to reach a deal that gives him the votes needed to pass the package. Fitzgerald also noted the bill would still have to go before the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) fired back in a release that his members overwhelming support the governor’s plan, and want to pass it as soon as possible. Vos said “We’re not going to wait for the Senate when tax cuts are a top priority for Assembly Republicans.”
Governor Walker on Thursday said he has continued to meet with leaders of both chambers about his plan, and suspects some of the infighting between lawmakers may go beyond the current proposal. “It’s less about the tax cut plan and more about other issues,” Walker said, although he added that he expects them to “be professional” and work together on a solution.
The main sticking point among Senate Republicans right now appears to be the possible impact the tax cut could have on the state’s structural deficit in the next biennium. Walker says he’s open to moving money from the rainy day fund to help pay down the deficit, as long as it leaves his tax cut proposal intact. “Whether your do it through the balance, through the rainy day fund, or other ways…in the end we’re setting it aside for the future,” Walker said.
Walker remains confident lawmakers will act on a plan before the session ends later this spring.