Did Jeb Bush promise his own tax reform? Kinda. With many other GOP presidential hopefuls vowing bold tax reform, observers were wondering whether the former Florida governor would follow suit in yesterday’s announcement speech. He didn’t. Instead, he merely pledged to “think big,” and promised “a vastly simpler system” that would end “special favors for the few” and cut rates. More to come, perhaps?
Kansas finally passes a budget, including $400 million in tax hikes. With a June 30 deadline looming and Governor Sam Brownback threatening big cuts in education spending to help close a $400 million+ deficit, the Kansas legislature finally passed a budget. And the measure, which looks a lot like a Senate bill the House first rejected last week, will boost cigarette and sales taxes and impose a modest tax on some partnerships and other pass-through businesses. A couple of years ago the state repealed all taxes on those firms.
Everything’s bigger in Texas—tax cuts, too. GOP Governor Greg Abbott just signed a bill to cut $3.8 billion in taxes over two years for homeowners and businesses. He also signed a measure to repeal $250 million in professional fees, so Texas will see $4 billion in tax relief over the next budget cycle. Texas has $11 billion in its rainy day fund and several billion dollars “left on the table.” As a result, the governor is not worried about balancing future budgets.
Florida’s tax cuts: $428 million. The GOP-controlled House passed a hefty tax cut package and sent it on to GOP Governor Rick Scott for his signature. Democratic state Senator Bill Montford reminded his colleagues that during the next budget deliberation, “I think we need to focus one more time… on exactly what our state's needs are.”
In New Mexico, some new and some old tax breaks. GOP Governor Susana Martinez signed into law a renewal and expansion of half a dozen tax incentives already on the books. The bill also creates two new tax breaks. Beneficiaries include corporations who build headquarters in New Mexico, military contractors, technology companies, certain investors in business start-ups, and taxpayers with large medical expenses that can’t be deducted from federal income.
And in Massachusetts, the Senate can suggest a state income tax freeze. The state legislature is trying to hammer out its budget, and the Senate responded to a House proposal with a plan to freeze the state’s income tax rate at 5.15 percent. The rate is scheduled to fall to 5 percent, but the Senate wants the revenue to expand the state’s earned income tax credit. The House cried foul, arguing the Senate couldn’t originate its own revenue plan. But the state’s Supreme Judicial Court noted that the House budget would delay the implementation of a big corporate tax deduction: That makes the House plan a “money bill” that the Senate can amend. Now, budget negotiations can resume. They need to. The new fiscal year starts July 1.
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