Lawmakers Battle Over Budget

Tuesday, May 17th 2016, 7:27 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

The clock is ticking for state lawmakers to bridge an estimated $1.3 billion budget shortfall.

By law, any tax increases have to be proposed by the end of the week. State lawmakers took up a number of bills Tuesday to raise taxes and cut tax breaks, but mostly, they fought.

 "You're just simply trying to balance the budget by willy-nilly picking credits that don't have enough power interests on the other side to defend it,” said Rep. Scott Inman, House Minority Leader. “That's what you're doing. Plain and simple."

"Give me a little bit of a break please. It's not necessary to say that we're just picking hand and foot different tax credits. We've gone over this. We've gone over the financial analysis and we know what we're doing," Rep. David Brumbaugh, Republican caucus chair, responded.

That was pretty much the tone of Tuesday's discussions with Republicans and Democrats sitting at separate tables like cliques in a high school lunchroom. They discussed several bills to cap tax credits. 

"Not one of you in this room know how this is going to affect the economy when you put a cap on it. Not one of you," Inman said.

They were also hit with a last minute bill to raise the gasoline tax by $0.03 per gallon. 

Democrats said Republicans want to balance the budget on the backs of the poor.

"So the hand we're going to deal them today with this tax increase is to raise the gas tax so they can't get to and from work and to and from school and to and from the doctor,” said Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-District 92. “What a disaster."

"You don't have to bring it up and try to make it look like that all Republicans all we want to do is bash on poor mothers that are out there that don't have a job and don't work etc. etc. It's offensive that you even bring that up," Appropriations and Budget chair, Rep. Earl Sears said.

In the end, that gas tax bill did not pass, but lawmakers have plenty of other bills they'll be proposing this week to try to bridge the budget gap.