A lot of work is being done behind closed doors to bridge the state’s $1.3 billion budget gap.
News 9 got a glimpse Tuesday at the House of Representatives solution.
Members of the House said they’ve identified $2 billion that can be used towards the budget.
That’s the good news. The bad news is taxpayers will have to pay more for less.
“If there’s ever been a year when we gotta lead this is the year we gotta lead,” said House Appropriations and Budget Committee Chair Earl Sears (R).
Sears said leading means making hard decisions.
Under the House plan here will be additional cuts in services; there will be cuts in tax breaks; and there will be an increase in taxes.
“Some of them are initiatives that would take an increase in taxes,” Sears explained. “Some of them are eliminations in appropriations. Some of them is reform of tax credits. And that’s what we’re looking at."
Sears has a stack of proposals. Specifically, an increase in the tobacco tax of a $1.50 and reductions in health care costs by moving people off Medicaid. Sears said that would save $182 million.
Sears also backs a sales tax for certain services like haircuts.
“I don’t think we can get it off the floor, frankly. It will have to go to a vote of the people. With a two-thirds majority to pass a tax that just won’t happen. There’s no question. There’s members that just absolutely won’t vote for a tax increase,” he said.
Members discussed a gas tax increase. That could bring in $28 million for every penny increased.
"I’m just being brutally honest with you. I just don’t think that’s one that we will seriously consider,” Sears said.
Sears said they could also dip more into the rainy day fund, the unclaimed property fund, and several revolving funds.
Representatives also plan to borrow money, in the form of bonds, to pay for infrastructure repairs.
“That will absolutely be considered,” Sears said.
But when asked if that isn’t just kicking the can down the road, Sears said “good point, good point," then added that if some of these other initiatives pass the state will be in a better position to pay down that debt.
Sources say the governor has also made some modifications in her budget and plans to release more details Wednesday.