Things Are Heating Up

March 31, 2010 12:33 pm

by Tyler · 3 comments

The friction has started. On Monday Senate Democrats said “No Thanks” to a Republican measure to increase hospital taxes.

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.

Chris Huttman March 31, 2010 at 12:54 pm

But Republicans said it is wrong not to have separate votes on every issue.

chefdavid March 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Dear General Assembly,
I was really impressed with you having, one of the people that I think is a great songwriter and performer, Jennifer Nettles, there today to give her experience with 4-H. I was inspired as someone who regularly sponsors 4H.
Today, I read House Bill 1055(HB1055). The house side of your body passed it one hundred to fifty-seven. I am very happy that my Representative(in the 2nd) decided not to vote for this measure. Even if the 23 excused or the 10 not present would have voted against it, the bill would have still passed. I am sure after comments from some of your members this year you will decide this is a fee modernization and not a fee increase. I beg to differ. How can you blast the Universities of this great State in one breath for cutting 4H and extension programs and then increase fees on farmers in HB1055. On my first reading of HB1055 I thought it was a tax increase, mostly because of the 70 pages. On my second reading I felt like it was a direct slap in the rural counties face. Moreover, you pretended support for 4-H’ers is almost disgusting. I can see a huge increase just in the fire protection fee from $0.04 to $0.10 an acre.
I am only ashamed Miss Nettles spent so much of her precious time to make you feel good about yourselves today. I am sure HB1055 will hit the rural counties next year like a bat in the head. I was really shocked you didn’t add an increase to fertilizers or seeds or organic farmers or grocery stores. Oh I am sorry you did. I can only hope this measure will only fail in the Senate.

PS. If you increase fees, please decrease the budget by the same amount or this is a tax increase in my book.

Thank You

Dave Bearse March 31, 2010 at 7:25 pm

I hope the Dems vote their conscience, but how many Republicans would be voting for this if there was a Democratic majority in the General Assembly?

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