A sales tax hike for teacher pay and property tax relief faces its final hurdle Monday in the Statehouse. House Bill 1182 is scheduled for debate on the state Senate floor. Ahead of the vote party leaders say they’re weighing all options to increase education funding.
A sales tax increase to boost teacher pay is one vote away from the governor’s desk, but it is not a done deal.
Republican State Senator Corey Brown says most lawmakers would prefer finding ongoing money in the budget to reprioritize for education.
"Given some of the difficulty the House had doing that and actually identifying sustainable areas, it’s probably unlikely that we’re going to have a lot of ways to do that in the Senate, but I think all of us are open to that if we’re able to find a sustainable way forward," Brown says.
Brown says tax increases are difficult discussions, and lawmakers must carefully consider the impact of a one-half of one percent sales tax hike.
Democratic State Senator Angie Buhl O’Donnell says the Blue Ribbon Task Force studied education funding extensively. Still lawmakers are asking questions to make sure they’ve explored all options.
"You know, I don’t think we have it just sitting in the budget. I don’t think we have it just hanging out in the couch cushions, that we’re going to find the kind of money that we need to move us forward," Buhl O'Donnell says. "I’m sure we’ll have some more questions about that – as we should. We should be thorough. That’s what people send us here to do. But ultimately I think the answer’s going to have to be a sales tax."
Buhl O’Donnell says she hopes State Senators support the sales tax increase, but she expects the vote to be close.