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UPDATED: House speaker looks to force Democrats to vote on Kaine tax

Rosalind Helderman

UPDATED 6:24 p.m.: As expected, the Rules committee voted 13 to 2 to send the income tax proposal directly to the House floor, with no recommendation. Republicans argued the issue is so pressing that it should be considered by the full body immediately. The issue will come up for debate later this week.

Republicans in the House of Delegates are preparing to force their friends in the minority party to take a vote on Gov. Tim Kaine's proposal to raise the state income tax.

The proposal was not exactly wildly popular, even with Kaine's own party. Kaine (D) argued that a tax increase is a necessary element of any plan to close the state's $4 billion, two-year budget gap. But many Democrats would probably like to avoid voting on the touchy topic and helping to kill a proposal that was one of their governor's last acts in office.

No such luck.

House Speaker Bill Howell has sent a bill that would enact the tax increase to the body's Rules Committee, where it will be heard this afternoon at 4 p.m. That's a sure sign that the GOP will take advantage of a change in House rules established in 2008 that allows them to pass bills out of the Rules Committee on for full consideration of the House without a recommendation.

If the bill had been sent to the Finance Committee, which generally considers tax items, it could only have made it to the floor for consideration by the whole body if the committee passed the item. Never in a million years would the Finance Committee pass the tax hike, being carred in the house by Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington).

But by sending the measure to the Rules committee, Howell ensures the committee can pass the bill on and force his Democratic colleagues to "go on the board," as they say, and take a recorded vote: Yay or nay to raising the state's income tax.

We'll be watching the Rules committee meeting this afternoon for fireworks, as well as the floor debate in coming days.

The more interesting question is what will happen in the state Senate, controlled by Democrats. There, Kaine's income tax hike is being carried by the Chairman of the Finance Committee Chuck Colgan. Colgan told us this afternoon that he does not expect his bill to pass.

But senators have not yet provided clear answers about whether they will propose raising other taxes to close the shortfall. Gov. Bob McDonnell last night vowed to veto any tax increase passed by the General Assembly, so if the Senate embeds a tax increase in their spending plan, we'll be headed directly for legislative gridlock here in Richmond.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  January 19, 2010; 6:20 PM ET
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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More games. It's sad and tiresome. Everyone, out of the sandbox.

Posted by: jckdoors | January 19, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Governor McDonnell needs to propose a budget alternative if he doesn't like the current one before the legislature.

Posted by: jeffersonian1 | January 19, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

The tax increase proposed is a flat tax regressive one and should never pass. It will disproportionately affect the most those who have the least. This is the anti-thesis of what this liberal Democrat stands for, and I hope Democrats throughout the Commonwealth feel the same.

Posted by: gretchenlaskas | January 19, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

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