Monday, May 14, 2007

Random legislative notes

The House passed a $7.85 billion budget. The Senate version at the end of the regular session was $7.9 billion. Let's hear it for fiscal restraint on the part of the Montana House. Those 13 Republicans ought to hire themselves out as professional car-buyers -- people would probably pay them good money to shave 0.6% off sticker price. (On a $30,000 car or truck, that would save you $180. Now that's compromise. )

The amusing part is that when Scott Sales proposed that the House could go ahead and adjourn, Sen. President Mike Cooney had a fit, threatening not to approve the budget. Let's see -- it is the deal cut by the same governor Cooney obeyed when told to stop working on a compromise with Republicans on the final day of the session, and it only reduces spending by 0.6% from what the Senate passed. And this is a problem for Cooney?

The latest version of the tax bill in the House has what appears to be an interesting compromise: leave out the ongoing property-tax credits, but also leave out all of the extra empire-building powers the DOR was wanting so they could go after taxpayers. (Although we assume that the DOR still got its 90 employees -- so look for them to be coming after us anyway, just to have something to do.)

It also leaves out the renters' tax credit, which never did make sense.

What remains is the $400 election-year "check in every pot" for the governor -- and the Republican's business equipment tax reduction -- the most important proposed tax reduction of the entire session.

This is actually not a bad compromise.

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