by Max Brantley
The Republicans' bill for a website to review state expenditures came up in a House committee this morning and was recommeded for passage. It was an occasion to point up some growing tension over the movement that developed yesterday among conservative Republicans to block spending bills with even small increases — a total of $200,000 on the three bills.
State Rep. Jim Nickels, a Democrat, said the so-called state checkbook legislation was a good bill and he favored it. But he noted it would cost money to implement — $600,000 by one estimate, perhaps more or less. He noted that many Republicans had said repeatedly they were elected to reduce spending and taxes. On other bills, he indicated, "the tone I'm seeing coming from the minority party is that even though this may be good government, we ain't going to pay for it."
Said Nickels, "Something's going to have to change with that approach to government or we're going to be in a lot of trouble in this state." He added, "It is a very serious matter. We could end up like California or Washington, D.C."
Sen. Jonathan Dismang, who was presenting the bill, objected to bringing up partisan issues on a bill that he didn't believe to be partisan. It is, of course, a key part of a unified Republican Party platform, promoted through multiple means, and when it passes it will be held up, properly, as a Republican achievement. That's partisan politics. The voting pattern yesterday, despite an exception or two, was partisan in nature. The developing question is whether a caucus of 25 Republicans is prepared to stymie legislative progress on bills with big majorities.
Funny question that Dismang didn't answer directly. Rep. Linda Tyler asked if he was willing to give up a share of General Improvement Fund money (the state pork barrel) to pay for the project.
The Department of Finance and Administration said it supported the bill.
Noted: The so-called checkbook won't cover higher education.
ELSEWHERE ON THE TAX FRONT: A Twitter report says the House-passed sales tax holiday on school clothing and supplies failed today in Senate committee. So continues the vast chasm between the Houses. The House is bent on cutting taxes as much as possible in as many ways as possible. The Senate seems to be willing to try to narrow the cuts to several significant cuts — on groceries, used cars and manufacturers' utilities.