The House passed its highway bill. It voted yesterday to approve the $325 billion measure. The bill includes reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank until 2019. It also authorizes infrastructure funding for six years, but only if Congress can come up with offsets for the second three years. The House version will have to be reconciled with the Senate bill by November 20.
On the Ways & Means agenda: Expired tax breaks. Tax Analysts reports that new Chairman Kevin Brady ranks making the “extenders” permanent high on his priority list. The 50 or so tax breaks expire December 31. There is no chance most will be made permanent any time soon.
In the Senate, a plan to increase Social Security checks. Democratic senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders (who is running for President) would like to make up for the fact that Social Security payments will have no cost of living adjustment in 2016. The senators have introduced legislation that would cut a $580 check to each Social Security beneficiary next year. They’d cover the cost by cutting a corporate tax deduction for a portion of “performance-based compensation” for executives. Maybe it could be added to the permanent extender bill.
In Florida, Governor Rick Scott is ready for some more tax cuts. He wants another $1 billion in cuts in 2016, in order to keep his reelection promise. The state’s projected surplus from growth in tax collections is $635 million. Also in line for the money: State agencies such as the departments of Law Enforcement, Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Children and Families, and Corrections. All have had high turnover due to low pay and no pay increases in seven years.
In Kirkwood, Missouri, a school tax proposal prompts a church-flyer flap. The city’s school board had proposed an 18 percent increase on the local property tax, but on the Sunday before Election Day, Rev. Jack Costello of St. Peter Catholic Church included a one-page letter to his parishioners on the ballot initiative, stating, “There are just too many ‘red flags’ over this tax issue and the proper stewardship of the Kirkwood School Board.” A former school board member would like the pastor to apologize. The Archdiocese of St. Louis said that the letter distributed by Costello did not violate any IRS regulation or other law applicable to nonprofit organizations. The proposed tax increase did not pass.
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