Gov. Tim Pawlenty, as promised, has vetoed the $1 billion tax bill passed by the House and Senate last night. The measure would have increase revenues in three areas: a new top-tier income-tax bracket for the state’s wealthiest individuals, an increase in taxes on alcohol and a surcharge on credit card companies that charge interest rates higher than 15 percent.
The House passed the bill by a 86-45 margin, with all but one Democrat supporting the measure, while all Republicans opposed it. The Senate then passed it on a 44-20 vote, also along party lines.
Democrats had portrayed the tax bill as a compromise because it has the same level of new revenue as Pawlenty’s budget plan. However, the Republican governor’s budget proposal relies on roughly $1 billion obtained by selling bonds backed by future tobacco settlement proceeds, rather than new taxes.
Previously House Democrats passed a tax bill with $1.5 billion in new revenues, while their counterparts in the Senate drafted a bill with $2.2 billion in new taxes.
The veto essentially puts the legislature back at square one in attempting to close the state’s $6.4 billion budget deficit. The House would have to scrounge up four more votes to override the governor, a possibility that seems highly unlikely given how the debate played out yesterday.
Last night Pawlenty also announced the he was vetoing a bill that would have required retailers to post signs warning of the dangers of cocoa bean shell mulch. The measure was much ridiculed by Republican legislators.