By B.J. Reyes
House lawmakers met late into the evening to decide on various tax proposals all aimed at closing the state’s $1.23 billion budget gap.
All of the tax bills were on Agenda #6, scheduled for 5 p.m. in the Finance Committee. (The agenda wasn’t taken up until about 9:45 p.m.)
The most prominent measure advanced by the committee was House Bill 2598, the proposal to scoop the Transient Accommodations Tax from the counties.
Rather than scoop the full amount — estimated at $100 million for the upcoming fiscal year — the committee amended the bill to instead temporarily cap the amount of TAT money going to the counties at the current level of $94.3 million a year. The state would get any revenue above that amount and the cap would be in place for the next five fiscal years, starting July 1.
Mayors and other county executives had lobbied hard against the total TAT scoop, saying the loss of the those funds would lead to larger budget deficits on their ends, forcing them to look at increases in property taxes. A similar measure advanced last year but ultimately stalled, leaving the TAT money in place.
The committee deferred HB 2876, which would have temporarily increase the general excise tax and use tax rates by one percentage point to 5 percent.
Also deferred was HB 2880, which would have temporarily increased the “wholesale” rates under the general excise, use, and public service company taxes to one per cent from one-half per cent.
Lawmakers were working late into the night ahead of Friday’s decking deadline to have bills in their final form for final reading before sending them to the Senate for further vetting.