Hogs at the trough
If you think things were getting out of hand at the General Assembly this past week as far right lawmakers rammed through one ideologically-driven bill after another, just wait till next week — what seems likely to be the final one of the 2011 session.
The final week is almost always a time to be on the lookout for shenanigans — especially from the well-off and well-connected who frequently use the chaos of the closing days of session as a cloak for sneaking in all sorts of complex “technical corrections” before anyone has a chance to fully decipher and report on them. It’s the week when a lot the big bidness lobbyists earn their fat retainers.
Now, with the people running the legislature being essentially indistinguishable in many instances from the business lobby, it could well be a record-setting few days for corporate hyper-consumption.
Here’s one bill that seems like an especially likely vehicle for fat cat mischief: House Bill 619. As Edwin McLenaghan of the Budget and Tax Center noted yesterday, the bill is already a boondoggle that will hamstring the Department of Revenue and provide new windfalls to giant companies.
Now, the bill has been delayed and “re-calendared” for next Tuesday. Word on the street is that this was done so that the bill can be loaded up with even more corporate loophole provisions — changes that will end up provding so many exemptions and deductions that the corporate income tax may well cease to have any real effect for a lot of profitable companies.
In short, rather than a public and politically unpopular frontal assault on corporate taxes, it appears that the legislative leadership is opting to kill state taxation on profitable businesses with a thousand cuts — or maybe, more accurately, a thousand hog bites.