April 16th, 2015 Income Tax Cuts Solely In The Hands Of The House The North Dakota State Senate defeated the House Income Tax Cut Plan by a vote of

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April 16th, 2015


Income Tax Cuts Solely In The Hands Of The House


The North Dakota State Senate defeated the House Income Tax Cut Plan by a vote of 13-33 today.

They waited till the day after Tax Day to do it.

After amending it down from $150 million to $33 million, the Senate just could not bring itself to cut income taxes at all today.

Luckily, that same Senate earlier in the session passed its own $125 million income tax cut package in Senate Bill 2349- which passed by a vote of 33-14 (almost the exact inverse of today's vote).

That's right - a lot of Senators will be able to say they voted for income tax cuts before their voted against income tax cuts.

What is the Senate's excuse for flip-flopping on tax cuts?

They need to spend it, of course!

According to the Forum Communications article:

Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the Legislature is reaching the stage of the session where tough decisions must be made, and the last report from Legislative Council indicated the 2015-17 budget still had a $66 million deficit.

Holmberg said that with significant gaps remaining between House and Senate versions of budget bills – they’re $140 million apart on K-12 funding and $39 million apart on the Department of Human Services budget – the $33 million in income tax cuts would be better used to close those gaps.

He noted the Legislature has reduced individual and corporate income taxes every session since 2009 and made property tax relief a priority again this session.

“Let’s take a two-year break on these other two areas,” he said of the income taxes.

Total Approps

State spending has increased so much over over the last 8 years that in order to just keep up with the demands of the bigger government that has grown in that time, a good chunk (not all) State Senators think it is time to take a break from tax cuts.

Senator Joe Miller (R-Park River) had the proper attitude when he said:

“The most responsible thing that we can be doing in a down economy, like we have in North Dakota right now, is cutting taxes and reining in spending, and what I’m hearing from this body right now is the exact opposite,”

It is now up to the House to pass Senate Bill 2349 just as it was passed by the Senate. If they try to amend it in any way, the bill will end up in conference committee and the Senate can have a chance to vote against themselves again.

As I wrote earlier in the session:

Fear is in charge in Bismarck, but it didn't have to be this way.

The desire to grow government and increase spending over the last eight years has created a situation where the legislature has pinned itself in a corner due to out of control spending.

The math isn't working any more in tight times, the cost to 'hold harmless' is so high now it is nearly impossible convince lawmakers to make bold moves on tax policy - even moves that both sides have backed recently.

The budgets passed in the last eight years are not sustainable, and 2015 is just a preview of how bad it could be in 2017 if spending is not brought under control.


-Dustin Gawrylow, Managing Director

North Dakota Watchdog Network

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