The trio of Democratic leaders–the governor, Speaker Dillon and Senate Dem Leader Prusi–are now behind a proposal to raise just under $400 million in new revenues for 2010 and it is expected to go public tomorrow with a series of votes in the state House.
Revenue sharing to local governments, Promise grants, Medicaid, libraries and K-12 schools would get the money. Gladly, some of the new revenues would come from eliminating corporate tax loopholes ($116 million), with the rest from a variety of sin taxes, a freeze on personal exemptions on the state income tax, new fees on doctors and, sadly, a cut to the scheduled increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit.
The total revenues proposed fall far short of what we need and there is nothing there that deals with anything like major revenue reform–although the corporate loophole closing is a beginning.
The package probably deserves the support of progressives as a matter of policy–it is a pinkie finger in the dike of budget cuts that otherwise would overwhelm education, health care, libraries and the Promise grant to college students. It will keep some cops and firefighters working, and that’s a good thing.
But as a political proposal it sucks. It’s not a strategy. Right now there’s not a single Republican vote that can be counted on in the Senate, and not even agreement from Senate Republican Leader Mike Bishop to allow a vote on the package.
Chances are at least 50-50 that this thing could crash and burn and create even more political wreckage for progressive Democrats who would have a big fat tax vote weighing them down in 2010 with nothing to show for it except having done the right thing.
Stay tuned. Tomorrow should be interesting.