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Funding for Basic Health – update March 12, 2011

HB 1847 repeals tax expenditures that shield those who own private aircraft from excise taxes, block taxes on elective cosmetic surgery, shelter bank profits on home mortgages and out-of-state coal used to produce electricity. The revenue raised by terminating these tax shelters or tax expenditures is dedicated to funding Basic Health to low-income state residents. The bill has still not received a hearing.

Action: Call House Ways & Means Committee Chair Ross Hunter and request he schedule a hearing for HB 1847.

HB 1889 still languishes in House Ways & Means without a vote. A failure to pass HB 1889 deprives legislators of an accurate accounting of more than 500 tax expenditures created as loopholes, special tax preferences or incentives.

It’s a bit like allocating several thousand each month to spend through a revolving credit card account as part of a household budget, and then deciding, without attempting to track how those thousands are spent through the revolving account, whether the family can afford basic goods and services like health insurance and college tuition. The difference is legislators previously allocated $6.5 billion through tax expenditures that create special tax preferences, loopholes, or incentives, which are not clearly accounted for during thebudgetary process.

Those legislators are now deciding whether we need to cut Basic Health, and whether we need to reduce funding for higher education, without first doing a full and accurate accounting of what will be spent through tax expenditure programs. Perhaps more importantly, legislators have not determined what returns are created, or even whether a public benefit is created, by those tax expenditures.

Action: Ask House Ways & Means members to take Executive Action to pass HB 1889 out of committee and refer it to Rules.

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