Monday, November 19, 2007

Notes from the (state house) floor

We journalists were packed like sardines into a legislative office Sunday, watching senators and delegates negotiate critical details of a $1.4 billion tax package (PDF). In some cases, it was almost like trading baseball cards as members of key House and Senate Committees bargained and compromised away differences between the chambers’ tax proposals.

This was not exactly quid pro quo, but the respective chambers made it clear that there were things they just could not do. Time was short, as the special session of the General Assembly drew close to the end of its third week. Legislators were determined to finish by Monday, so it was time for “consensus.”

House members, for instance, made it clear, that delegates could not support a change in the in-state residency requirement for the personal income tax. The Senate wanted to change it from six to three months. Senators would not go above 5.5 percent on the income tax rate, contrary to a House proposal to set the top bracket at 5.75 percent.

It was interesting to watch such momentous decisions take place so quickly, but special sessions are short. Do you think there was enough time for our solons to fully consider the budget changes?

-ANDY ROSEN, Business Writer

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