House passes a budget bill

It was a real surprise when the House adopted the conference committee report on SB 112, the budget that still needs $400 million in additional revenue to balance, without any discussion.

Chairman Ryckman explained the bill and Speaker Pro Tem Peggy Mast asked if there was discussion and then quickly announced that seeing no one, Ryckman could close on his motion to adopt the report.

The report was adopted on a vote of 64 to 48.

Democrats called foul, noting that Rep. Sharon Schwartz (R-Washington) had her light on, an indication that she wanted to speak, but was not recognized. Democrats had planned to speak at length about their concerns.

The report now goes to the Senate for their consideration. That is likely to happen today. If the Senate also adopts the report, it goes to the Governor. Of course, they can vote it down and then consider HB 2135, the budget that balances by cutting 5.7% from all agencies. This would be a $181 million cut to K-12 education.

Tax Conference Committee Meeting

With the passage of SB 270 in the House and HB 2109 in the Senate, there are now two tax bills in conference. The. Only similarity is that they both contain the tax amnesty plan.

The House bill (SB 270) also contains:

  • The restoration of a property development tax credit,
  • The repeal of the sunset on rural opportunity zones,
  • Permission to raise local sales taxes in three counties, and
  • A fire district property tax clarification.

The Senate plan (HB 2109) also contains:

  • The Christmas tree farmer tax break,
  • SSN required for tax credits,
  • Repeal the alumni association property tax exemption,
  • Requiring KDOR to send motor vehicle registration letters,
  • Ending “double dipping” on sales tax exemptions,
  • Capping local property tax increases, and
  • Cutting the food sales tax to 5.7% on Jan. 1.

At the first conference committee meeting, House Chair Marvin Kleeb indicated that the House had some interest in the Senate positions but also concerns with the property tax cap. They agreed to meet again at 11:00 today.