by Max Brantley
The repeal of the unearned sales tax break on truck rigs, which I've belabored here at some length, ain't dead yet, though it remains on advanced life support.
Yesterday, Senate leaders declared it dead, after once counting as many as 23 of the 24 votes necessary to get it to a vote. Republicans were either totally opposed, not having been part of the deal to extend the break in return for a diesel increase (now unrealized) in the first place, or, after some willingness to go along, peeved at House Democrats' refusal to yield on some other legislation favored by the Senate.
What's new? Suddenly, the repeal has a lobby. (The truckers' tepid letter in support of repeal was all that lobby had to offer, along with a not-so-secret wish they'd get their $4 million annual windfall for nothing.)
The lobby is a significant combine — city and county government. If the Highway and Transportation Department has to ship $4 million of ITS money to state general revenue to make up for this tax cut, the spending formula of this highway money — 15 percent each for cities and counties — means they'll lose $1.2 million altogether. Suddenly, mayors and county judges are on the horn to legislators. Where have they been before, one wonders?
It's still a longshot. It would take many rules suspensions and super majority votes to get it approved without extending the session beyond the planned closing day Friday. But you know what Yogi said.