After hearing that the state’s revenue picture is improving thanks to rising oil prices, the legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee rejected five tax proposals.
They were intended to help address a $500 million shortfall in education funding. The committee defeated a one percent leisure and hospitality tax on a tie vote and refused to consider four other proposals that included raising sales and property taxes.
House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly says when the short-term funding crisis disappeared this fall, there was no longer an appetite for taxes.
“Once we saw that the revenue streams are up, that we can pay our bills tomorrow and not worry about schools opening in the fall, I’m not surprised. Disappointed but not surprised.”
Connolly says the state still has long-term funding concerns and many committee members say they agree.
Senate Revenue Committee Chairman Ray Peterson notes that the state will be balancing a lot of its proposed two-year budget with reserve funds, so the issue isn’t going away
“We’re gonna have to address it sometime as we keep spending down our rainy day accounts and our funds, as I mentioned just now in committee I’m convinced that the only time we’ll be serious about addressing it is when we have no savings left.”
Others note that the cost of education funding is expected to rise, especially in the area of construction and maintenance.
Some committee members say they want to be sure that they are done reducing spending before they vote for tax measures.