Taxes, tolls, and pot. Those are some of the big topics that will feature in the budget discussion, which gets underway in earnest on Tuesday with the appropriations committee voting on a spending bill.
The bill could greatly affect the state’s budget over the next two years. On Wednesday, the The Finance Revenue and Bonding Committee will vote on a revenue package.
Everyone knew coming in this was going to be a daunting task – figuring out how to solve the projected $3.7 billion dollar deficit for this two year budget. With Democrats firmly in control of state government, one of the ideas is a popular one with the left, which is tax the rich.
There’s an idea for what some call a mansion tax, an extra tax on really expensive real estate.
Then there’s the idea of raising taxes on capital gains, which is where the wealth for many wealthy people lies.
Tolls are sure to come up. They’re not popular, but all the nearby states have them, and it would be a sure source of revenue, with some 50 toll gantries on major highways around the state. You’d pay a few cents for every mile you travel.
Less guaranteed is the idea of legalizing marijuana and taxing it. That idea is very popular with certain groups, but others argue that marijuana use comes with costs that outweigh the money the state would get from a pot tax.
If all goes according to plan, there should be a budget deal passed and on the Governor’s desk by the end of the regular legislative session on June 5th, just 5 weeks away.
What often really happens is that there is no deal by then, the legislature goes into a special session, and is still working out a deal at 11:59 pm on June 30th, when the budget is supposed to go into effect at midnight.