This week on the Hill: Appropriations bills in the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will try to take up two spending packages this week. The first, which wraps five spending bills into a single measure, includes domestic priorities and the second tackles four bills including defense spending. Congress must pass 12 appropriations bills or another continuing resolution by November 21 to keep the government open. So far the Senate has passed none while the House has passed 10.
A federal e-cigarette tax? Politico reports that the House Ways & Means Committee could consider a federal levy on the controversial product as soon as this week. The panel may consider a measure to tax vaping at the equivalent of $3 per pack of tobacco cigarettes.
Next month, Colorado voters will decide whether to let the state keep excess tax revenue, rather than refund it to taxpayers. Since 1992, Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, has required the state to return any tax revenue that exceeds the state’s annual budget unless voters allow it to retain the revenue. The Democratic majority in the Colorado Statehouse has advanced Proposition CC to the November 5 ballot. It asks voters to allow the state to allocate some surplus tax revenue to transportation and transit, K-12 schools, and higher education.
Utah’s tax reform task force releases its plan. The Tax Restructuring and Equalization Task Force proposed major changes to the state’s tax code that would reduce revenue by at least $75 million annually. It recommended lowering the current 4.95 percent income tax rate to as low as 4.49 percent and cutting other taxes by $70 million. It would raise the sales tax on food from 1.75 percent to 4.85 percent and impose sales taxes on gasoline and some services. To offset any tax increases on lower-income residents, the task force suggested raising the state dependent exemption from $565 to $2500 and providing a $100 grocery tax credit per household member. The group also recommended a constitutional amendment to repeal a requirement that only income tax revenue be spent on education. It is not clear whether the legislature will take up the plan in a special legislative session.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot would raise taxes on restaurant fare. She’d double the current 0.25 percent tax on food and drinks sold at retail establishments and restaurants starting January 1. The city’s aldermen need to approve the increase. Lightfoot says the tax hike would generate $20 million in additional revenue in 2020. She needs to close an estimated $838 million budget shortfall.
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