Budget Talks Consider Expanding Sales Tax

Dec 2, 2015

As budget negotiators continue to hammer out the fine points of the budget deal, they're considering expanding the sales tax.
Credit Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Rank-and-file state House lawmakers returned to the Capitol this week hoping for specifics of a budget deal.

They left Tuesday evening disappointed.

Top lawmakers are still hashing out the fine points of a spending plan, as legislative staffers work late to draft their positions in legislation – which is all to say that no one is comfortable talking about the details of the spending plan with any surety.

“Things are still too fluid to say this is what we’re doing, this isn’t what we’re doing,” said Miskin.

The plan is expected to include more education funding, scaled-back retirement benefits for public employees, and changes to the state liquor system.

A number of revenue options are under consideration. Top lawmakers say they’re no longer trying to hike the state sales tax, but they are looking at an expansion of the items that are taxed. Food and clothing is expected to continue to be exempt from the sales tax, but there are more than 100 other exceptions to consider.

House Majority Leader Dave Reed likened the budget negotiation to a football game. The agreement last month on a general framework was the 50-yard pass.

“Now it’s more two yards at a time and you see a dust cloud around you,” said Reed. “Working through the actual drafting of this legislation is not the easiest thing in the world.”