Walter Jones with Morris News Service writes:
The Senate Finance Committee merged the House version of Perdue’s hospital tax with another bill nicknamed the JOBS Act that has a package of tax breaks for businesses. The committee also sweetened some of the tax breaks to resemble a version of the JOBS Act that Perdue vetoed last year.
The committee announced its 8 a.m. meeting Monday, when legislators were in recess, and said the agenda would be disclosed later. Only two Democrats serve on the committee, and witnesses say neither was present.
Senate staffers say the changes were needed to win enough votes for passage. The hospital tax isn’t popular with either party.
“We had to do some minor, technical amendments,” Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams told reporters Tuesday after the committee meeting.
Senate Republicans have taken the JOBS Act, which passed with bi-partisan support in the House, and stuck Perdue’s hospital tax in the middle of it. It’s an election year. The last thing any party wants to be forced to do is to raise taxes. It seems Republicans are trying to spread the blame out in order to protect themselves. Well, it’s not working for them.
“They can still pass it. They don’t need us – they’ve got 33 votes in the Senate. They only need 29,” said state Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna). “We’re not committed to passing it or opposing it. We haven’t been brought into the discussion, either.”
Stoner’s comment is very reminiscent of DC Republicans response to Obamacare: “You can pass it without us.” We’ll see if the Senate does pass the measure. My guess is there will be plenty of negotiations between now and the vote. We are in the middle of a budget crisis and state needs revenue. This battle is just getting started.
H/T to Jim Galloway.