House has knock-down, drag out on tax bill

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by Geoff Pender, The Clarion-Ledger


The House on Tuesday fought fiercely over tax cuts, tax increases, road work and a lottery — all while debating one Senate bill.

Senate Bill 2858, as passed by the Senate, contained Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ proposal to cut nearly $600 million in corporate and individual income taxes over 15 years.

But by the time it passed the House on Tuesday, the bill included only the elimination of the lowest bracket of income taxes and a provision that a state lottery would have to be created before the bill could ever take effect. Debate grew heated at times, and lawmakers several times grew so loud the House speaker had to bang his gavel and demand order.

Conservative House Republicans tried unsuccessfully to add the Reeves tax cuts back to the bill. Democrats attempted unsuccessfully to raise taxes or cut exemptions to fund road work.

Rep. Robert D. Foster, R-Hernando, offered an amendment to return Reeves’ tax cuts to the bill and chided fellow Republicans for not supporting the cuts.

“My amendment requires everybody to put their big-boy pants on,” Foster said. “… We need to force it to the board for a vote so we can see who wants to cut government and who just says they want to cut government.”

Rep. Joel Bomgar, R-Madison, noted that House Democrats were able to block passage of a similar tax cut bill last year because Republicans lacked a three-fifths supermajority. This year, Republicans have that supermajority.

“We had every Republican in the Senate last year and this year voting for the same exact tax cuts,” Bomgar said. “… Every single House Republican (last year) is on record for this exact language, verbatim. There’s no reason a tax cut was a good idea last year and not this year … If we can’t deliver this for the voters, what are we doing here?”

Some lawmakers appeared angry when a voice vote was taken on the amendment instead of a roll-call vote recorded on the House machine. A roll-call vote can be demanded by one-tenth of House members standing to demand it. It appeared that many did stand, but Speaker Philip Gunn said the clerk counted too few and a voice vote was held.


Read more at The Clarion-Ledger.