A frustrated state House Speaker Calvin Say (D-St. Louis Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, Palolo Valley) lit into several lobbyists and industry representatives tonight for their opposition to a bill that would lift general-excise tax exemptions on certain business activities.
The bill, similar to a proposal discarded at the end of last session, is one of the main options House lawmakers are considering to help reduce a projected two-year deficit of $700 million.
One by one, Say called the lobbyists back before the House Finance Committee for lectures about special interest treatment. The speaker said none of the opponents of the bill offered an alternative remedy to the deficit, and he asked them whether they would prefer a 1 percentage point increase in the GET instead.
“All you folks looked at was just for your own interests,” Say scolded.
Although a few of the lobbyists were brave enough to push back — including one representative from a nonprofit who told speaker that an end to their exemption could mean a reduction in social services that the state would end up paying for anyway — most simply took their medicine.